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Home opener always special for players, fans

by Chris Pinkert / Notes by Dan O'Neill

ST. LOUIS - Opening Night is always special, and Wednesday's thrilling 5-4 overtime win in Pittsburgh was no different.

But aside from playoff hockey, there's nothing really quite like the start of a new season at your home rink.

Scottrade Center will host it's first regular season game of 2017-18 tonight when the Blues meet the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m. (FSMW, FSGO, KMOX 1120).

For the fans, having hockey return is always an indescribable experience. For the players, well… it's pretty much the same.

Here's what several of the veteran Blues - and newcomers - had to say about tonight's home opener in St. Louis:

Alex Pietrangelo: "I've been here a long time and every year it's exciting. With the renovations in the building, there's obviously an added buzz. It's going to be a fun game for everybody. The crowd noise, it gives you chills. We hear it in the locker room before the game, so the louder the fans are, the better it is for us to get going at the start of games."

Brayden Schenn: "(Scottrade Center) was a tough barn to come play in. It was always going to be tight defensively, and it was no fun being the opponent coming to play the Blues. Everyone knows that. We won't change that at all. The home opener, it's going to be exciting and the crowd will be good. At the same time, we've got a good Dallas team coming in that made some big trades in the summer time, some free agent signings. They'll be a good team."

Video: Blues Pregame Live - Oct. 7

Joel Edmundson: "I still believe that Blues fans are the loudest in the League. They show up to every game, they know their hockey and you can feel a buzz around the city right now. Everybody's excited for tonight."

Chris Thorburn: "We were there (at Scottrade Center) for a couple exhibition games but nothing compares to the real season and the real deal. As far as being an opponent last year (with Winnipeg), it was pretty crazy coming to the rink and hearing the atmosphere here. It excites you. I'm glad to be on this side of it now."

Mike Yeo: "We should definitely try to use our crowd tonight. Our crowd is going to be jacked up, it's going to be exciting and it's going to be loud. If we play the game the right way, then I think we can make that even louder."

HITCHCOCK RETURNS

Although former Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock met the Blues twice in the preseason, tonight is the first game against his former club that counts.

Hitchcock spent nearly six seasons behind the Blues bench from 2011-17, recording 248 wins with the Blues. He led the team to the postseason in each of his five full seasons.

In the offseason, Hitchcock took a job with the Stars - his second stint with the club. He said Saturday he reflects fondly on his time with St. Louis.

"(I've realized) we were really proud of what we built here (in St. Louis)," Hitchcock said. "I think you find out when you're in a different organization and you're trying to get back on the winning track, how challenging and difficult that task is and you ought to not take it for granted. When you're with an organization that is in the playoffs all the time, there's a lot of things that go into that."

"I think Hitch is familiar with a lot of the things I'm saying, and I think we're familiar with a lot of the things Hitch is saying," Yeo said of facing off against Hitchcock's Stars tonight. "It's going to come down to the team that executes their game the best and the team that can stay with it the best tonight. For me, this game is going to be won in the trenches tonight. That's the way Hitch's teams play, and we saw a lot of that on the video from last night.

"…We know what we have to do to defend and it's not going to be easy, but we're going to have to find a way to get on the attack against them."

SCOTTRADE CENTER GETS AN UPGRADE

Throughout the summer, Scottrade Center underwent the first phase of a three-stage renovation plan to keep the venue competitive in efforts to attract regional and national events to St. Louis.

The renovations included new NCAA locker rooms, renovated restrooms on the Plaza and Mezzanine Levels, and new premium experiences - including the 132-seat Theater Box with a 44-seat bar and lounge.

Tonight will be the first regular season game the building has hosted since renovations were completed.

The most noticeable upgrades, perhaps, are the in-game and event entertainment updates, with the centerpiece being a new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision scoreboard that ranks as the eighth-largest in the League. Upgrades also include a new sound system, lightning and much more.

BLUE NOTES

The Blues went 3-1-0 against the Stars last season and have won five straight matchups at Scottrade Center. Overall, the Blues have won nine of their last 11 games against Dallas.

Paul Stastny has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last five games vs. Dallas.

In his last three starts against the Stars, Jake Allen is 3-0-0 with a 1.59 goals-against average, a .930 save-percentage and one shutout.

Doors open at 5 p.m. at Scottrade Center, with live music and appearances from Blues celebrities on the concourse between Sections 120 and 126. Fans should be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. for a pregame show that includes player introductions, a live performance by Greek Fire, music from the Show Me Arts Academy and more. Retired Petty Officer Generald Wilson will perform the national anthem. Click here for a complete schedule of events for the pregame show.

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