PENGUINS (X-X-X) vs. BLUES (X-X-X) WHEN: December 6, 2012 - 7:00 pm | WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
Instead of making pitches for high-priced free agents this past summer, the St. Louis Blues concentrated their efforts on re-signing their own. The reigning Central Division champions were able to lock up two key pieces of a team that has the potential to finish near the top of the Western Conference once again.
The Blues signed young forwards David Perron and T.J Oshie to new four- and five-year contracts, respectively, hoping that the two will be part of solution the to carry the club back to the postseason for the foreseeable future. Returning back to form after dealing with a concussion, Perron recorded 42 points (21G-21A) in 57 games last season. Oshie was St. Louis’ second leading scorer, putting up 19 goals and 35 assists through 80 contests in 2011-12.
Along with Perron and Oshie, David Backes, Patrick Berglund, Chris Stewart and Andy McDonald make up a potential top six that can produce points. The Blues didn’t have a prolific goal-scorer on the roster last season, but eight players had 30 or more points. Seven of those eight will return in 2012-13.
St. Louis traded checking winger B.J. Crombeen to Tampa Bay, and chose not to re-sign forwards Jason Arnott and Chris Porter, or defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins. Other than those few changes, the roster remains in tact, including 2012 Jack Adams winner Ken Hitchcock behind the bench. Hitchcock was named coach in November of 2011, replacing Davis Payne after a 6-7 start, and guiding the club to a 43-15-11 record during the remainder of the campaign.
Two of the Blues’ top four scorers last season were defensemen, and they’ll both return in 2012-13. Alex Pietrangelo recorded 51 points (12G-39A) in 81 games, while Kevin Shattenkirk potted nine goals and 34 assists in the same number of contests. Barrett Jackman, Roman Polak and Kris Russell will also continue to patrol the blue line in St. Louis.
The Blues have arguably the most formidable tandem between the pipes in the NHL. Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak both saw ample time in net for St. Louis last season, and both were equally deserving of their starts. Halak posted 26 victories while Elliott had 23, with the two combining for 15 shutouts. Halak had a stellar 1.97 goals against average and .926 save percentage. Not to be outdone, Elliott recorded a 1.56 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. The pair shared the William M. Jennings trophy in 2012, awarded to the goalies with the fewest goals against over the course of the season.
BLUES: DAVID PERRON
Once returning to the lineup last December after a year-plus hiatus due to post-concussion syndrome, Perron was back to putting up points on a regular basis. The 24-year-old winger had a seven-game point streak in the month of February, and finished the season recording points in five of his final six games. PENGUINS: XXX
Ben Lovejoy , knee (5)
F Mats Zuccarello, broken wrist (6)
D Steve Eminger, lower body (10)
D Michael Sauer, concussion (56)