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Brodeur Meets Avs as Elliott Nears Return

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - As Brian Elliott inches closer to returning from a lower-body injury, the opportunities in goal would appear to be more limited for Martin Brodeur.

So as he prepares to start tonight against the Avalanche (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX), Brodeur says he’s going to enjoy every minute of it.

“I try to enjoy it every single time I’m out here,” Brodeur said after the morning skate. “The future, at the end of the day, is not going to be in my hands. Somebody else will decide. I try to make the best out of the situation that we’re in right now, and I’m glad that (Elliott) is coming back. As a team, putting the best product out there is the most important thing. Him coming back will be a big lift.”

Brodeur last played Dec. 23 at Pepsi Center, where he made 10 saves in the third period in relief of Blues goalie Jake Allen.

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong could decide to keep three goalies on the roster, and that’s something Brodeur said he’d be open to.

“I’m open to any kind of situation,” Brodeur said. “I’m just happy that I’m on the roster of an NHL team and the great one that (the Blues are) with a fun atmosphere. Regardless of what it takes for me to help the team one way or another, I’m ready for it.”

Brodeur gets the opportunity to help the Blues tonight as they meet Colorado for the third time in 17 days. In the last meeting, Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves in a 5-0 shutout at Pepsi Center. Previously, the Blues beat the Avalanche 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 1 and 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 23.

“We’ve played two of the three really really well, as good as we’ve played all year. That’s the game we want to bring,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “There’s some games where you just turn the page. (The 5-0 loss) is a game for us where we’ve turned the page. But we really focused on the things we did well in the two games we did beat them. That’s going to be the game plan we put forward.”

Colorado had points in six consecutive games (4-0-2) before losing 5-2 to Chicago on Saturday night.

“The last three games we’ve played against them, even going into last year, have always been intense games,” said Blues forward Ryan Reaves. “They play physical like we do and we’ve got to respond. We’ve got to respond to last game and we’ve got to respond to this four-game losing skid.”

PORTER’S NEW LINEMATES

Chris Porter found himself skating with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko on Saturday vs. Dallas, and he’s making the most of it.

Today’s morning skate is a good indication he’ll be back there again tonight.

“(The coaches) don’t want me to change the way I play and I certainly don’t want them to change the way I play,” Porter said. “I thought it was a good mix of physicality and goal scoring, so hopefully we can get (a goal) 5-on-5. We created some great zone time and we’ll look to do the same tonight.”

Porter was asked if being that on line means he instantly looks for Tarasenko every time he gets the puck.

“Kind of,” he said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to just focus on that. You want to hold onto the puck and make a great play. If he’s there, great, get it in his hands. But we have some guys on the backend and Lehtera that can score as well.”

BUILD ON THE GOOD THINGS

The Blues may be 0-3-1 in their last four games, but Hitchcock said there were a lot of good things in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Dallas, and he intends on building upon them.

“If you play really well and you build on the good things that happened the game before, (things) take care of themselves,” Hitchcock said. “For me, we had a lot of positive stuff that happened last game. We’ve got to clean up the big errors and if we can do that, I like our chances of winning every night.

“We work so hard to get our own (chances), we don’t want to give the opposition easy ones. If we can eliminate that and continue to play with the focus and energy we did last game, I like a lot of the stuff we’ve done.”

Added Reaves, “It always bothers you when you’re losing four games in a row, but you look around the league and every team is going to go through it. I don’t think there’s a team in the league that doesn’t go through tough times, and we’re hitting it right now. Last game we didn’t play too bad, the penalties cost us, but if we get back on the horse, we’ll be OK.”

BLUE NOTES

Speaking of Reaves, he could get some ice time with Paul Stastny and Dmitrij Jaskin tonight. “Obviously I love playing with (Steve Ott) and (Maxim Lapierre), but getting a chance with Stastny and (Jaskin), maybe they can throw one off my back or maybe off my face, doesn’t matter. I’ll try to create some space for them and give them some room to do their thing.”

The Blues will be raising money for Stray Rescue of St. Louis and Five Acres Animal Shelter tonight with their annual “Barkin’ for the Blues” game. The team will be selling pet bandanas for $10 each on the concourse. Autographed bandanas, along with a special silent auction, will also be available outside Section 119. In addition, pets available for adoption will be on the concourse outside Section 124.

Barret Jackman is one penalty minute shy of 1,000 in his career. With his next penalty, he will become the 19th active player to reach 1,000 PIMs, and just the third active defenseman behind Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf.

The Blues First Stride program, which allows children ages 5-8 to try the game for free, was held today before the morning skate. Participants were invited to watch the Blues practice and even got to meet Bernie Federko, Darren Pang and Hitchcock. Players signed autographs after practice, too. You can see photos on the Blues Facebook page.

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