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Reaves Hopes to 'Put on a Show' in Winnipeg

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

WINNIPEG - If tonight’s game at MTS Centre is even half as memorable as the last one, Ryan Reaves is going to have a pretty good story to tell.

Back on Nov. 23, the 28-year-old Winnipeg native broke a 2-2 tie early in the third period to help the Blues to a 4-2 win against the Jets. A large contingent of friends and family watched from the stands and were pleased to see the goal stand as the game winner.

“I did a little spin-o-rama, tried to get it on net, I don’t think the goalie was ready for it,” Reaves said after the game. “I’ve never gotten a point playing here in front of my family. I’ve had one or two fights, but never a goal. It’s always fun.”

That game on Nov. 23 was the first one Reaves’ father, Willard, attended this season. After the Fathers’ Trip in January, Willard has now attended four games. Ryan has scored in three of them.

And yes, Willard will be watching at MTS Centre tonight.

“It’s always special coming back and playing in front of friends and family,” Reaves said after the morning skate. “The family is coming. It might be a little smaller (group) than last time, but I hope I put on a show for everybody.”

Reaves knows that putting on that show won’t be easy. The Blues are facing a Jets team that has points in four of their last five games, most recently a 4-2 win Tuesday at home against the Dallas Stars. Winnipeg holds the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 73 points, and the Jets have done some lineup tinkering of late, acquiring Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers from Buffalo and yesterday, Jiri Tlusty from Carolina.

“They look a little different. We’ll get ready for them but one thing we know is this is an emotional building,” said Blues forward Alexander Steen, who also grew up in Winnipeg. “They like to come out fast. This is a great test for us. Tonight will be a fast paced and usually pretty physical hockey game.”

“We’re going to need 60 minutes if we expect to win. There’s lots at stake,” said Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. “We’ve all got 20, 22 games (or so) left. We’re in a good position, but we’ve got to build on the position now. They’re in a good position now, they’ve got to build on it, too.

“This is what you hope for. A chance to get in the playoffs, a chance to do some damage, but now you’ve got to go out and earn it with your good play.”

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Beginning with tonight’s 7 p.m. game (FSMW, KMOX), the Blues will play 11 of their next 14 games on the road. The current road trip is five games and also goes through Edmonton, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Toronto after tonight.

The good news? The Blues are 16-10-2 on the road this season, making them the sixth best road team in the NHL. They’ve also won seven of their last eight away from Scottrade Center.

Vladimir Tarasenko is the hottest player on the road, netting 14 goals and 11 assists (25 points). Steen is a close second with seven goals and 17 assists (24 points).

BUSINESS IN WINNIPEG

Speaking of Steen, the Blues forward is all business when it comes to being on the ice. But away from the rink, well, he’s all business there, too.

Just over a year ago, Steen opened Great Big Adventure, a 12,000 square-foot indoor play center for children in Winnipeg. The space is the largest indoor spot for kids to play in town and features seven slides, a miniature floor hockey rink, basketball court and more.

“It was just something that was lacking in Winnipeg,” Steen said. “I have two boys that come here and spend time with grandparents and friends of our family, and they really had no where to go when they were here, and it’s cold during the winter. So we discussed opening up something that kids can go to and hang out, where parents can relax. After some planning and careful thought, we did it.”

After arriving in Winnipeg on Wednesday evening, Steen visited Great Big Adventure to catch up with the staff and sign autographs for kids. In the next several weeks, we’ll have video on stlouisblues.com with more on Steen’s great big business venture.

BLUE NOTES

The Blues have won five straight against the Jets and have points in 10 straight dating back to Nov. 8, 2009, when the Jets were playing as the Atlanta Thrashers.

Hitchcock coached in his 1,300th regular season game Tuesday, becoming just the ninth coach in League history to reach the milestone.

Tarasenko has points in three consecutive games (two goals, three assists), helping him reach the 60-point mark. He is the youngest Blue since 30 goals and 60 points in a seasons ince Brendan Shanahan in 1991-92.

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