EDMONTON - The St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers will meet for the final time this season tonight at 8:30 p.m. CT (FSMW, KMOX).
It’s also the Blues’ final appearance at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
The Oilers are leaving their home of 42 years for the new 18,500-seat Rogers Place, which is currently under construction. The new building will be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season and is located in downtown Edmonton.
The place they’re leaving has plenty of history: Rexall Place, which originally opened as Northlands Coliseum, has been home to the Oilers since 1974 and housed five Stanley Cup Championship teams that included players such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr.
Rexall Place also holds special meaning for several Blues, who say a new building in Edmonton is bittersweet:
Jay Bouwmeester, an Edmonton native, on attending games at Rexall Place:
“I didn’t go to many games, but the ones we did, I remember it was pretty neat. Obviously, it’ll be my last game here. There’s a lot of history in this building, and a lot of people here back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when things were really rolling. It was a great, exciting time here, and pretty neat. But it’s also neat for the city to get a new rink to help rejuvenate downtown. In the long run, it will be good.”
Colton Parayko on playing at Rexall Place, where he grew up watching the Oilers:
“I think it’s cool that I got to play two games here. I didn’t know that was going to happen at the beginning of the year. It’s obviously a dream come true to play in the NHL, and get to play at home where you watched your hometown team play. To be in this building as a spectator and all of a sudden you’re playing, it’s bittersweet yeah, but I think the new building is going to be great for the Oilers and great for the League.”
Anders Nilsson, who played in 26 games with the Oilers earlier this season:
“For me, I was only here for one year. But for the fans that have been following the team since Day 1, it’s probably going to be a special moment for them when that last game comes. But (the new building) is going to be a very nice building. It’s going to be good for the organization and the whole city.”
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock on memories at Rexall Place:
“When I came in here as a fan and watched them play WHA, and one or two years into the NHL… that’s my recollection. This was such a brand new facility and it was so nice, and it was the class of the WHA at the time. There were a lot of ex-Edmonton Oil King players that played on the WHA team here, and it was fun to see those guys.”
The Blues have had plenty of success recently in this building, where the club has won six stragiht, including a 4-2 victory earlier this season. Although the Oilers currently sit last in the West with 61 points, the Blues won’t be overlooking Edmonton tonight: a win for St. Louis would give them another opportunity to seize first place in the Western Conference.
FABBRI VS. McDAVID
On Opening Night, when No. 1 overall draft pick Connor McDavid made his NHL debut and was expected to steal the show, it was Blues rookie Robby Fabbri who made the biggest impact, scoring the game-winning goal in his own debut.
“It was a special game for a lot of us,” Fabbri said. “Sharing a first game with (Joel Edmundson) and (Parayko), it was a lot of fun. To play against a longtime friend like Connor, it was just a really exciting night for everyone.”
Fabbri and McDavid had dinner last night and are looking forward to another meeting tonight.
“He’s such a special player, everyone has seen what he’s done this year,” Fabbri said of McDavid. “But quickness is a bit part of both of our games, I try to utilize that as much as I can and obviously he does the same.”
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson sustained a lower-body injury Monday night in Calgary, so Robert Bortuzzo will fill in tonight. Dmitrij Jaskin is also back in the lineup, replacing Ryan Reaves.
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Patrik Berglund - David Backes - Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Magnus Paajarvi
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Colton Parayko - Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo
Kevin Shattenkirk will play in his 400th career game tonight.
Paul Stastny has points in four straight games (three goals, four assists) for the third time this season.
Alex Pietrangelo has eight points (two goals, six assists) and a plus-12 rating over his last eight games against the Oilers. Vladimir Tarasenko has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his last seven vs. Edmonton.
With the NCAA Tournament set to begin - some opening round games are being hosted at Scottrade Center - we asked a few players to share their brackets with us. Keep your eyes peeled to the Blues Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to see who the Blues are picking this season - we've already revealed David Backes' and Vladimir Tarasenko's bracket.