ST. LOUIS - It's early in the season, but first place in the Central Division is on the line tonight when the Blues and Nashville Predators meet again at Scottrade Center at 7 p.m. (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX 1120 AM).
But Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said he’s not thinking about the standings right now. He’s just thinking about how his team will respond after losing 2-1 to Nashville in the first meeting on Saturday.
“I glance at the standings and in probably six weeks, I’m going to be staring at it every day, but right now, I glance at it,” Hitchcock said. “For me, the focus is its our turn to respond. They beat us fair and square, they played a great third period, it was an even game… we didn’t have the energy to create any offense and they had enough energy to defend against us.
“We’re the ones that have to make a few adjustments here and get ready to play a little bit better. If we do that, I like our chances.”
Both teams have played 15 games. The Predators currently sit in first place with 22 points, while the Blues are second with 21.
“They’re a good team. They work hard,” Blues forward Ryan Reaves said. “They’ve got some sneaky skill there and if you fall asleep for a couple minutes, they’re going to make you pay. We’ve got to play a full 60 and make sure we don’t fall asleep.
“We want to put some teams behind us in the division and not look back. I think this is a good start today.”
Speaking of Reaves, he’ll be back in the lineup tonight after missing one game with an ankle injury. Reaves was hit with a puck in practice earlier this week, but he’s good to go again.
“I’m feeling better,” he said. “I modified a couple things, got some padding in there. It’s feeling pretty good.”
Alexander Steen took charge with the rough stuff Tuesday in Reaves’ absence. He dropped the gloves with Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis, then got called for two roughing penalties in the third period.
“I saw (Ennis) wearing a lot of blood after,” Reaves said. “I’d give (Steen) a 10 on that fight.”
T.J. Oshie was on the ice for today’s optional morning skate and said he’s feeling much better as he recovers from a concussion sustained on Oct. 28 in Dallas.
“I felt good (today),” Oshie said. “I asked my buddy (Chris Porter) to hit me a little bit and see how I’d feel. I felt good out there, so we’ll see how the symptoms are the rest of the day. Hopefully they’re nonexistent.”
When asked if he could play tonight, Oshie said “I don’t know. I’ve got to see how I recover after this morning.”
After practice, Ken Hitchcock said Oshie won’t be an option until he hears the OK from the medical staff, whenever that may be.
“If he gets a call, then we’ll put him in,” Hitchcock said. “But it’s got to come from the doctors and the medical people before approval. As far as physical conditioning and everything, he’s been up to speed for three, four or five days now. (But) until we get approval, he’s not going in.”
Jake Allen starts in goal tonight against Nashville. If you missed it, he wants another mask and is letting fans submit designs online. To enter, go to www.stlouisblues.com/jake and submit your design before Nov. 19 at 5 p.m.
In Tuesday’s game, Jori Lehtera became the first Blues player to score a natural hat trick since Al MacInnis did it on Oct. 12, 1998.
The Blues are the only team in the NHL with three players to have scored hat tricks (Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz).