Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues will be a little out of the ordinary for defenseman Jay McKee. Before signing with the Penguins this past off-season McKee spent three seasons playing in St. Louis.
He commented on the Blues after Tuesday’s morning skate, saying nothing but good things about his former employers.
“It was a real fun year for us (last season in St. Louis),” McKee said. “We battled hard in the second half and had a lot of success and made the playoffs there.”
This won’t be the first time McKee has gone up against one of his old clubs. Before playing in St. Louis McKee spent nearly a decade with the Buffalo Sabres. He said these kinds of games are special in many ways.
“I had this opportunity in St. Louis, playing against (my former team) Buffalo for the first time,” McKee said. “I think it just adds maybe a little bit more of a fun element to the game, being out there against guys that you’ve competed hard with.
“I made such good friends and bonds over the last few years, so it just adds a different element. It doesn’t feel like a normal hockey game, although it is.”
McKee stressed the importance of keeping any emotions he might have in check.
“There won’t be anything I’ll do differently (in preparing for the game). It’s another hockey game. Mainly it’s the two points that we’re looking for.”
The former St. Louis blueliner also has been helping out the Penguins coaching staff prepare to play the Blues.
“(Blues head coach) Andy Murray, he changes his systems quite often, so you can’t really just pinpoint what he’s going to do tonight,” McKee said. “I know he will go over our game tape and see what we’re doing. It’s a little bit of a chess match with him. He tries to counter things.
“I’ve spoken with the (Pittsburgh) coaches and tried to let them know maybe a thing here or there that we can expect from them.”
The Penguins are scheduled to play St. Louis once during the regular season, and while it is an interesting challenge to play against former teammates, it’s one that McKee welcomes with open arms.
“I wouldn’t mind facing them more than once,” McKee said. “It’s fun playing against old friends. It’s a neat opportunity tonight, knowing that it’s only a one-time thing this year.”
And McKee couldn’t resist the chance to offer up a bold prediction for this NHL season:
“Who knows? The next time might be in the (Stanley Cup) Final that we have to meet them.”