ST. LOUIS - Carter Hutton will make his regular season debut with the Blues tonight when the club hosts the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center.
"You get excited like a little kid," Hutton said of playing for new home fans. "You work your whole life to play here, so every time you get a start in the NHL it's obviously a great thing. You get pumped. But at the same time, it's just playing. You go out there and compete and control yourself… at this point, I know what I do best and that's what I try to bring to the table."
Hutton was stellar in the preseason, posting a 2.05 goals-against average and a .931 save-percentage in five games. Of course, the level of competition in the preseason isn't equal to what you'll see tonight, but that didn't stop Head Coach Ken Hitchcock from calling Hutton the best player in training camp.
"He's earned the right to play. He's been the surprise story of camp, he's been solid," Hitchcock said. "We need to make him part of the team. You can't be part of the team if you don't play. We'll give him tonight and see how he does, and we'll get a better read after the game, but we sure have liked him so far."
When the Blues traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames and then signed Jake Allen to a four-year contract extension back in July, it was obvious the net belongs to Allen. But trading Elliott left a gap, and the Blues looked to Hutton to fill the void. He was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks and played one game there in 2012-13. The last three seasons, however, have been spent in Nashville, where he backed up Pekka Rinne.
Overall, Hutton has played in 76 NHL games, posting a 33-24 record with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .910 save-percentage.
Because of the World Cup of Hockey, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has played only two periods of preseason hockey with Hutton, but he says the transition has been seamless.
"He's competitive. He's vocal out there," Pietrangelo said of Hutton. "It was a pretty easy transition for him because he and Jake play a similar style. They both move the puck well. It was a bit of an adjustment the first game because I didn't know he could play the puck, but I'm pretty aware of it now.
"We've had the luxury of (two good goalies) for a few years," Pietrangelo added. "We had that 1-2 punch with Jake and Brian Elliott and we found it again. He fits right in and he's been playing great. It gives you confidence, for the coaching staff and the players, knowing if one guy goes down, you have the opportunity to have the other guy come in and play great."