CALGARY - Blues forward Paul Stastny has had a lot of success in his career against the Calgary Flames, and when asked about it, he says he’s got a pretty good idea why.
“I played against them a lot. I think when you play against them eight times a year, you’re bound to have some decent games,” Stastny said.
‘Decent games’ is an understatement, though. In his last two meetings with Calgary, Stastny has back-to-back three-point performances. Over the course his career, Stastny has recorded 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists) in 41 games against the Flames - that’s 14 points more than his highest point total against any other team (Edmonton is second - 35 points).
As Stastny prepares for his 600th career NHL game tonight, the Blues are just hoping for more of the same from No. 26.
“He’s a playmaker,” said Dmitrij Jaskin, Stastny’s rookie linemate. “Me and (Patrik Berglund), we have the same role - just make room for him and find the space to show him where you’re at. He’ll find you. It’s an honor to play with him.”
After getting off to a slow start following a shoulder injury early in the season, Stastny has been trending up in 2015. In the calendar year, he has six goals and 18 assists (24 points) in 32 games. He also has 15 points in 15 road games in 2015, which ranks third on the club.
In addition, Stastny has won more than 50 percent of his face-offs in 16 straight games and ranks third overall in the NHL in face-off win percentage (58.2 percent).
“As the season’s gone on, I’ve gotten more and more comfortable. (Changing teams) is not as easy as everyone thinks it is,” Stastny said. “When you’re in one place for such a long time, you get used to certain guys. You go to a new team, you lay low, be quiet, try to learn the ropes, learn who does what in the locker room, what coaches like, what they don’t like. As the season’s gone on, I’ve gotten better every game and felt more and more comfortable. I’m just playing my game.”
Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis, said his 599 games have dragged on and flown by at the same time.
“I think during the season it goes by slow, and after the season, you realize how fast it goes by,” he said. “I’m just having fun. You don’t pay attention to your career games played. As long as you’re contributing and healthy, you’re happy with where you’re at.”
The Blues meet the Flames tonight at 8 p.m. (FSMW, KMOX) for just the second time this season and first time since Oct. 11 - a 4-1 Blues victory at Scottrade Center.
The Flames will begin a five-game home stand tonight at the Saddledome and find themselves third in the Pacific Division with 81 points.
“People don’t realize their skill level,” said Steve Ott, who is back in the lineup tonight. “These young players they have, they’re not a big team but they’re a very skilled, fast team to play against. It’s no surprise for us that they’ve having the success they’re having. For us, we really have to be smothering against that type of speed and really play a controlled hockey game.”
Added Alex Pietrangelo, “We’re a team they want to test themselves against. We have to make sure we’re prepared every single night. If you’re not, somebody is going to take advantage of you.”
DIVISION STANDINGS UPDATE
The Blues hold the top spot in the Central Division and have two games in hand on Nashville, who also has 93 points.
1. St. Louis - 69 GP, 44-20-5, 93 PTS
2. Nashville - 71 GP, 43-21-7, 93 PTS
3. Chicago - 68 GP, 41-21-6, 88 PTS
The Blues have points in five straight games against the Flames (4-0-1), including a 5-0 victory in their last trip to the Saddledome.
Brian Elliott will start tonight and is looking for his first career win at the Saddledome. In his last four starts against the Flames, he’s posted a 1.00 goals-against average and stopped 83 of 87 shots.
The Blues penalty kill has stopped 12 consecutive opportunities over the last three games, including a season-high six kills Sunday night in Dallas. Going even further, the Blues have killed 29 of the last 30 penalties.
Sunday it was Steve Ott out of the lineup. Tonight it’s Barret Jackman. “It’s never easy,” Ott said. “Every guy wants to be out there. No difference with a great veteran tonight in Jax. He’s been playing great hockey but he’s going to take a break tonight.”