ST. LOUIS - After getting off to a slow start Thursday vs. the Rangers, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock wants to make sure his team dictates the play from the start when they host the Calgary Flames (1-1-0) tonight at 6 p.m. (FSMW, Y98).
“We put 40 great minutes in the last game, and we’d like to put 60 in,” Hitchcock said after an optional morning skate on Saturday. “We let New York dictate period one. We don’t want to let Calgary dictate. They’ve got too many tenacious high-energy guys.
“We can’t let them dictate, we have to do that ourselves.”
Tonight will be Calgary’s third game in four nights. The Flames earned a 5-2 win against the Oilers on Thursday night thanks in large part to a hat trick from Mason Raymond.
“They’re very aggressive on the forecheck, very aggressive in the neutral zone,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve got to make them defend more than they want to, because once they get a bead on you, they have foot speed and tenacity so they can take the game over like they did in the third period (Thursday) against Edmonton.”
Brian Elliott will start in goal for the Blues tonight. He has a 1.80 career goals-against average against the Flames, which ranks fourth among all goalies since the 2006-07 season. Only Ray Emery (1.33), Marc-Andre Fleury (1.57) and Jonathan Quick (1.60) have a better goals-against average.
Last season, the Blues went 2-0-1 against the Flames, who have lost in their last four trips to Scottrade Center.
Blues forward Joakim Lindstrom, who played 10 minutes and 26 seconds Thursday in his first NHL action since the 2011-12 season, said things were pretty much as he expected.
“It was kind of the same game,” Lindstrom said. “It’s up pace, it’s a fast game out there. It was fun being back.”
Lindstrom started Thursday with Jaden Schwartz and Jori Lehtera but ended up on a line with Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny.
“Lindstrom’s really improved,” Hitchcock said. “He left the NHL full time at age 24, came back at 30. He’s got confidence, he’s got quickness, he’s got tenacity to his game.”
Stastny (quad contusion) and Patrik Berglund (upper-body) missed Friday’s team practice but were on the ice this morning.
When asked about their status for tonight’s game, Hitchcock said “I wouldn’t read our lineup into anything right now. We’re kind of moment-to-moment with a few guys now.”
The next assist for David Backes will be the 200th of his NHL career.
Jay Bouwmeester has one goal and three assists (four points) in the last five games against his former club. Bouwmeester played for Calgary from 2009-13.
Vladimir Tarasenko (two goals and two assists) and Kevin Shattenkirk (one goal, two assists) each have three-game point streaks against the Flames.
The Blues have points in seven of their last eight games against Calgary (6-1-1).
Tonight marks the Blues’ eighth annual Pink at the Rink game. Volunteers from Komen St. Louis and Gateway to Hope will be selling pink ribbon decals for $2 each and pink Blues headbands for $10 each. In addition, fans can bid on autographed merchandise outside Section 119. Proceeds benefit both organizations.
The Block Party originally scheduled for today at 2 p.m. has been cancelled due to weather uncertainty. Doors open to Scottrade Center at 5 p.m. The puck drops at 6 p.m.