ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues understand it will be business as usual when they face the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. But there was obvious concern for Dallas forward Rich Peverley, who has a history of heart issues and collapsed on the bench Monday during the Stars' game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. As the teams prepared for an important Central Division game, it was clear that Peverley remained in everyone's thoughts.
"Our thoughts and prayers are for sure with Rich Peverley and his family," Blues captain David Backes said. "This is a game and it kind of puts things in perspective that there's life after this game. There's things that are bigger and more important. Hopefully he's recovering well and stable and can figure out whatever's going on so that maybe he can make it back. His health is the No. 1 concern.
"I'm sure those guys [the Stars] will have heavy hearts and thoughts. He's on our mind too. It's going to be a game when the puck drops and you try to compartmentalize that and go at it. ... It's on your minds and on your thoughts."
Former Stars left wing Brenden Morrow said it's natural for anyone to be shaken up.
"I was just like any other fan," Morrow said. "It's tough to watch and sad. You're just glad that the medical personnel were as fast and swift and thorough as they were to take care of it. I don't know where to begin with what they were thinking in that locker room over there."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he's witnessed something similar in junior hockey a few times but never at the NHL level.
"It's tough. It's very emotional," Hitchcock said. "We're watching it on TV ... the silence was just deafening. When [broadcasters] Ralph [Strangis] and Razor [Daryl Reaugh] were doing it and not saying anything to us was probably the best approach, but waiting for information was really hard for all of us.
"I know some of those trainers. I've worked with those trainers and when I saw Craig [Lowry, associate athletic trainer] running sideways on the bench there, I knew there was big trouble."
The Blues (44-14-6) boast the NHL's top record and could increase their margin to three points ahead of the second-place Anaheim Ducks with a victory. The Stars (31-23-10) hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference and must regroup to try and fend off a number of teams. The Phoenix Coyotes are one point behind the Stars, who have a game in hand, heading into action Tuesday.
The Stars recalled forwards Colton Sceviour and Chris Mueller from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to replace Peverley and Alex Chiasson, who was left behind in Dallas on Monday to be observed for anxiety attacks following the Peverley incident.
"I had that question earlier. Is it best to play or sit out and wait a few games? I guess time will tell," Stars veteran left wing Ray Whitney said. "We'll see [Tuesday], but I think as a group, knowing Rich is doing fine, doing well, I think it's best to get going and play right away and get it behind us.
"We're very thankful that he's going to be fine and make a recovery."
Here are the projected lineups for the Stars and Blues:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole - Cody Eakin - Colton Sceviour
Antoine Roussel - Vernon Fiddler - Chris Mueller
Ray Whitney - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn - Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton - Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: Aaron Rome
Injured: Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat), Alex Chiasson (anxiety), Kari Lehtonen (concussion)
Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko
Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Steve Ott
Magnus Paajarvi - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Roman Polak
Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Chris Porter
Injured: Jordan Leopold (ankle), Vladimir Sobotka (knee)