Friday, September 30, 2011


Team mum on Colaiacovo injury, has one week to fine-tune certain aspects

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues went through a fast-paced but spirited and friendly workout on Friday, their last before the final preseason game.

The Blues will face the Dallas Stars Saturday at 1:30 p.m. but the news on defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is ... no news.
(Getty Images)
Carlo Colaiacovo (28) left Thursday's exhibition win over Colorado with
an undisclosed upper-body injury. The Blues are awaiting test results.

Blues coach Davis Payne wasn't tight-lipped but he also didn't disclose anything new on Colaiacovo's mysterious upper-body injury, which he sustained in the first period of Thursday's 3-1 win over Colorado.

"We're going to get some further tests today," Payne said early Friday afternoon following practice at Scottrade Center. "What we determined this morning is we need to look into it a little bit more. Until we know more than that, there's no point giving you guys any sort of direction or non-direction. We've just got to wait."

This is the exact reason why the Blues (5-2-0 in the preseason) went out and replenished a cupboard that was pretty thin as far as depth was concerned, although this injury took place on the defensive side, where they lost a ton of man-games a season ago.

If for any reason Colaiacovo -- who has had a history of injuries throughout his career -- is out for any length of time, Nikita Nikitin and Ian Cole are ready to step in.

Payne also said the team will take a look at some players on the fringe of making the squad for the game against the Stars. Some of those players include forwards Chris Porter, Evgeny Grachev, Adam Cracknell, Philip McRae and Ryan Reaves, who did play in Thursday's victory. The team also recalled forwards Jonathan Cheechoo, Anthony Peluso, Brett Sterling and defenseman Mark Cundari from Peoria Friday afternoon, a clear indication that the lineup against the Stars will be for those looking at making one last crack at the big club.

Jaroslav Halak will get the nod in goal, as both Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott, vying for the backup role this season, have each made two of the seven preseason starts. Halak has started two games and Jake Allen, optioned back to Peoria, started one.

* Blues rounding into shape, still fine-tuning -- Thursday's lineup against the Avalanche resembled one that is as close to being regular-season ready as it can be.

The results were positive for the most part but Payne was concerned with a couple areas, particularly a power play that was 1-for-4 where the team used all its regulars.

"We had some potitional issues," Payne said. "We were kind of drifting into some spaces that doesn't make us very affective. That's why it's exhibition. ... These are things we've got to get worked out."

Forward Alex Steen said things are progressing according to plan.

"I think the last couple games, we've taken steps to getting closer to our complete game," Steen said. "I think every game we've been focusing on different things, from fore-check to defensive zone to PP and PK. Now we're just tweaking. We've got one more game here and we'll have a full week of practice.

"We'll have time to tweak the last little bit of things. We'll be ready. I think everyone's super-excited to get going. There's a special buzz around the team, the city. We're all excited."

* FANfest schedule -- FANfest will take place prior to the Blues' exhibition game with the Stars on Saturday. For a complete list of activities, here is a link:|STL|home

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blues skate past Avalanche 3-1 in exhibition

Backes, Oshie, Berglund get goals for St. Louis,
which used most of its regular skaters

ST. LOUIS -- In what Blues coach Davis Payne called "a dress rehearsal" for the group that could suit up in the season-opener, the Blues got a good glimpse of what they like and what still needs to be polished up Thursday night.

David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund scored goals for the Blues, who also got two assists from Andy McDonald and an 18-save performance from Ben Bishop in a 3-1 exhibition victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (5-2-0) used a regular lineup that was only minus Jaroslav Halak and Jason Arnott (eye) but one that lost defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo with an upper-body injury in the first period.

"It's about progressing," McDonald said. "I think we're starting to get some more regular combinations. It helps. The more time you play with someone, it's going to help the regular season and finding that chemistry's an important thing."
Blues goalie Ben Bishop (left) makes one of his 18 saves in a 3-1 win over
Colorado Thursday night.

The Blues spent a lot of time finding that chemistry with their regular lines as well as guys that will spend time on the special teams. They were 1-for-4 on the PP and killed off all three Avs power plays.

"It's kind of a work in progress," McDonald said. "I think we're pretty familiar with the unit. We did some good things, but there's some areas that we need to work on. We've got a little over a week, so we've got some work to do with it. There's some good signs out there."

"It's nice to have all the guys going," said Berglund, who has scored in back-to-back games. "I think everybody played well."

Added Oshie, whose power play goal was the game-winner nine minutes into the third period, "It's that chemistry that we've all kind of been talking about leading up to this. It's our first time playing together but we worked and feed off each other pretty well.

"You could tell a couple times we had guys rolling. It's just a lot easier when you know what the other guy's going to be doing and you can read off him a lot easier. It makes for better, smoother plays, more clean plays."

And Bishop, vying for that backup job behind Halak, stopped 18 shots as the Blues outshot the Avs 32-19. There was a stretch there where the Avalanche was stuck on four shots and didn't record its fifth until past the midway point of the second period.

"Sometimes those games are the hardest," Bishop said. "Sometimes it's nice when you have 30 shots like (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere had. It's hard to keep your focus out there when you're not getting shots, but I just tried to keep my focus and it worked out.

"I feel good about my game. I think the boys have confidence in me. It's up to them. I'm just going to keep working hard."

Backes got his second of the preseason and snapped a scoreless stalemate, backhanding a rebound home off a McDonald shot with 2:32 left in the second period.

"Throughout camp, we've both played with different lines, but it's nice to get on the wing with him and get working on some different things and finding that chemistry again," McDonald said of Backes.

Colorado would tie it 1:42 into the third when Joakim Lindstrom's shot from the right circle was the only one Bishop would allow. It came off a carom off a skate.
Blues winger Alex Steen (left) battles for position with the Avalanche's
Cody McLeod (55) Thursday night.

But Oshie would fire home a puck that came off the back boards to the other side of the goal. It came on the Blues' final power play.

"Unfortunately, Carlo had something happen to him there and I had to step in on (the power play point) and I got a lucky bounce off the boards and put her home," Oshie said.

Berglund iced the game, scoring at 12:28 by beating Giguere five-hole on a shot he admitted he was aiming elsewhere.

"It was kind of a lucky shot," Berglund joked. "I wanted to go far top corner but it ended up five-hole. It was a goal, and it was obviously really nice to score. I think the whole team had an amazing game the way we were working up and down the ice. It was a really good team effort."

Of course, Berglund couldn't let his buddy Oshie one-up him either.

"I couldn't let him win that battle," Berglund laughed. "He was the one out there in the neutral zone working hard so I could get that puck. He gets credit for that one, too."

All in all, a good result as far as Payne was concerned.

"As a group, I thought we paid attention to the things we've stressed here over the last couple days," said Payne, who also mentioned that Colaiacovo would be reevaluated Friday. "We played a real solid team game, the bench was lively and I thought for the most part, we were pretty solid."

(9-29-11) Avalanche-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues still have some open looks available for their opening day roster, but for the first time this preseason, the lineup that will be as polished as its ever been.

The Blues (4-2-0) host the Colorado Avalanche (1-3-0) at 7 p.m. today (KMOX 1120-AM) and for the first time will roll out a lineup that will have a regular season opener flavor to it aside from goalie Jaroslav Halak and Jason Arnott (eye).

"We've got pretty much our group going here tonight," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "It's a good opportunity for them to get together and play together, drive our game and our pace and our execution levels together and make sure we're ready and prepared right off the start and make sure we put in that full 60. That's what we want."

That doesn't mean the roster is set yet.

"There's still some guys we want to take a look at, but (look at) in situations," Payne said.

One of those players is Russian Evgeny Grachev, who will not suit up tonight but could very well snag one of those extra forward positions.

"He's found ways to execute, he's found ways to play at pace," Payne said of Grachev. "He's been effective on the forecheck, he plays his game with his feet moving and he plays a vertical game. He's a big body that's tough to contain, he's got good offensive instincts. That's the kind of guy from a depth perspective is very valiable to have."

Ben Bishop gets the start in goal and Payne was asked if he can win the job with a strong performance tonight.

"I think we go in and evaluate the performance," Payne said.

- - -

Scott Nichol, who scored in his first game with the Blues in Tuesday's 4-3 win at Minnesota, only played 7 minutes 35 seconds in the game but it's the kind of start he needed getting his skates on the ground running with the Blues.

"I thought he was very good," Payne said of Nichol. "He's a guy who in a checking kind of energy, fourth-line role, strong on faceoffs, strong decision-maker. ... Really kind of set our game with the one shift (the fourth line) had."

- - -

The Blues didn't roll lines at practice this morning, as some of the players were not at the morning skate, so here is the tentative lineup:

Andy McDonald-David Backes-Jamie Langenbrunner

T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Alex Steen-Vladimir Sobotka-Matt D'Agostini

Ryan Reaves-Scott Nichol-B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Kent Huskins-Roman Polak

Ben Bishop starts in goal; Brian Elliott will be the backup.

The Avalanche lineup should be available on

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Arnott to be sidelined up to seven days; Langenbrunner moves up

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues should be used to this, right?


It's been a dreaded word around here. But one that is pretty commonplace.

However, Jason Arnott's eye injury is not considered something that should keep the veteran out any more than seven days after having a minor procedure to remove a cataract. The Blues announced later on Wednesday that the surgery was a success.

Arnott's only played in one game this preseason but is expected to be ready to play by the season-opener here against Nashville.

"It's a procedure that he's got to have to get comfortable and to have all his vision clear out there on the ice," Blues coach Davis Payne said of Arnott. "It's a procedure, then it's some time and he should be good to go in the timelines we hope work out for our opener."

Not much has been made of Arnott's play this preseason, simply because there hasn't been much to gauge off of other than practice sessions.

"Great-conditioned, moving well, practicing well," Payne said. "When we talked to him, there's just that last little bit that you're uncomfortable going all the way into situations going at game speed. In the game (last week against Minnesota), he looked a little uncomfortable with what we know is going on, so we've got to get that corrected. (He's) moving well, handling pucks well, playing the game intelligently. It was a good start, but he'll get this figured out."

* Langenbrunner getting top-line ice -- When the Blues break camp next week, don't be shocked if veteran Jamie Langenbrunner continues his acquaintance with fellow linemates Andy McDonald and David Backes.

Langenbrunner, McDonald and Backes played together in Tuesday's 4-3 win in Minnesota and have been playing together for a couple days. It's a unit Payne is fond of.

"As the pace goes up, we want to continue to look at it," Payne said. "Langs plays such a smart game. He's positionally sound, the 1-on-1 battle and coming out with the puck ... those extra possessions is something Jamie's very, very good at. We feel like that compliments David and Andy.

"There's been a definite connection there early on. As a coach, you see it, and you try and ride it. We'll adjust when necessary. We like what we see."

* Bishop gets the nod against Avs -- If Ben Bishop is to leave one last impression on Blues coaches before they make a decision on who will back up Jaroslav Halak this season, Thursday's exhibition game will be the final time.

Bishop gets the start when the Blues (4-2-0) host the Colorado Avalanche (7 p.m. on KMOX 1120-AM if there is no Cardinals home game against Atlanta; plus it will be streamed on and

Bishop, who won his only start this preseason in a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay, stopped 21 shots in that game and is trying to beat out Brian Elliott for the backup job.

"Very big start," Payne said. "Both guys have worked their tails off. Credit to them recognizing the competition that's in front of them and the effort they've put into it.

"We're going to have to make a decision. It's not going to be an easy one. Bish has got a last-game opportunity here to make that as difficult as possible on us. It's his game to prepare, just like any goalie would ... prepare like he's got to play well."

* Blues improve to 4-2 on preseason -- Carlo Colaiacovo's goal with 1:09 remaining lifted the Blues to their 4-3 win at Minnesota, a game Payne was pleased with.

"I thought it was a good hockey game," he said. "I thought both teams played with a decent amount of pace. I thought we got off to a little bit of a slow start that we created ourselves. A couple pucks that we didn't get to the right depth in the offensive zone. As a result, we ended up having to defend a three-quarter ice situation. They get the jump with the first power play goal, we answer back and then give one up."

Also, the Blues got goals from Scott Nichol -- his first game with the Blues since signing over the summer, Patrik Berglund and Matt D'Agostini.

"If you look at our game from start to finish, it was a very consistent performance," Payne said. "I thought our guys skated and moved and used last night as a step to making sure that we're preparing at a high level knowing where we've got to be 10 days from now."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

(9-27-11) Blues-Wild Gameday Lineup

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- After tearing the labrum in his left shoulder in February and surgery in May, Scott Nichol is ready and anxious for some ice time.

The veteran center will get it tonight as Nichol was cleared by doctors to play and will be in the lineup tonight when the Blues (3-2-0) take on the Minnesota Wild (3-1-0) at Xcel Energy Center at 7 p.m. (game can be heard here:

Nichol, signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract over the summer, has been practicing on a regular basis with the Blues since the middle part of August but had not seen any game action.

"The shoulder feels good," Nichol said this morning. "It's a good test for today to get my legs under me in the first game and get used to some of the systems."

Nichol got clearance from his doctor in San Jose, as well as communication with the Blues' medical staff.

"This was kind of the precaution," Nichol said. "I got the (surgery) done on May 26th and that's four months. They say it could take up to six months max so it's right in that area. We had this timeframe all along.

"My goal is to get in these last three (preseason games) and get up to speed. If I get the last three, I get to catch everybody else. ... I need to play. I need the timing back, face-offs, penalty kill, get used to our system here. It's real good practice."

Blues coach Davis Payne has been anxious to see Nichol in game action.

"Looking forward to seeing him," Payne said. "He's good to go, cleared and at a point where with that surgery, there's a certain amount of healing, there's a timeframe behind that and we're past it. He feels great. He's ready to go."

- - -

Brendan Shanahan has certainly made his message heard and felt and we're not even through the preseason yet.

The former Blue and currently the NHL's Senior Vice President of Player Safety has laid the law down on a number of players -- including former Blue Brad Boyes -- for what the league has termed illegal hits per Rule 48.

"There's a message being sent right now," Blues enforcer Ryan Reaves said. "They're not going to tolerate those dirty hits, and I don't think that dirty hits should be tolerated. Running guys from behind shouldn't be a part of hockey.

"As far as me, I try to stay away from that anyways. I don't get too many boarding calls or any of those dirty hits. They're going to happen. I think (the league) needs to look at the intent more than anything. So far it's just been a message sent. Hopefully guys will be learning."

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski, a repeat offender of the rule, was suspended the remainder of the preseason and eight regular season games following a hit on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck on Saturday. It was Shanahan's most severe ruling yet.

Reaves was asked if players will change their game at all as a result of the new crackdown.

"It's tough," Reaves said. "Hockey's such a fast sport. It's kind of a reaction thing and when you've got a split second to react, it's tough to slow down when you're going that quick.

"I think guys will be a little cautious when somebody's skating with the puck towards the boards. I think they'll slow down a little bit, maybe think twice before running them if the player's got his back turned. ... But you can't change your style. If that deterred me from playing my style, I'd be out of here in a second."

- - -

The Blues will play the following lineup tonight:

Andy McDonald-David Backes-Jamie Langenbrunner

Evgeny Grachev-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Alex Steen-Vladimir Sobotka-Matt D'Agostini

Chris Porter-Scott Nichol-B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Nikita Nikitin-Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak will be in goal; Ben Bishop is the backup.

Not playing: Jason Arnott (upper-body), T.J. Oshie, Philip McRae, Reaves, Adam Cracknell, Kent Huskins, Ian Cole and Brian Elliott. Payne said Tuesday Arnott being sidelined is nothing that will keep him out for any length of time.

- - -

The Wild, which defeated the Blues 1-0 here at Scottrade Center last Thursday, will feature many of its regulars as opposed to the lineup here in St. Louis:

Devin Setoguchi-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley

Guillaume Latendresse-Casey Wellman-Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck

Colton Gillies-Eric Nystrom-Brett Bulmer

Greg Zanon-Marek Zidlicky

Clayton Stoner-Kyle Spurgeon

Nick Schultz-Marco Scandella

Niklas Backstrom will be in goal, with Josh Harding as the backup.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Roster spots still up for grabs; Cheechoo among cuts over weekend

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- With all the attention geared towards the backup goalie job and those few forward positions open, not much has been made of the battle for the seventh defenseman position between Nikita Nikitin and Ian Cole.

But when asked Monday after practice his thoughts, Blues coach Davis Payne didn't sound like someone giving a ringing endorsement for one or the other.

"Both guys have shown some decent play, but I think both guys can perform better," Payne said. "Gotta be honest with you, I think we've seen better hockey out of both guys."

One would think Nikitin may have the edge simply because of the one-way contract he has, and with the free agent signing of Kent Huskins during the summer, it seems like he will be among the top six.

Both Cole and Nikitin scored power play goals in their first exhibition games (a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay) and both played 20-plus minutes and were each plus-1 in a 3-2 win at Colorado Friday.

* Goalie battle still in a dead-heat -- Brian Elliott and Ben Bishop continue the race to the finish to see who will back up Jaroslav Halak this season.

Elliott has seen two games and will likely not play another preseason game, owning a 1-1 record (making 21 stops in a 3-1 win over the Lightning in the preseason opener, followed by a 3-2 loss at Dallas Saturday, making 23 saves). Bishop, who will play Thursday at home against Colorado, was in goal for the 4-3 win over the Lightning last week, recording 21 saves in that contest.

"Right now, I think you're looking at an incomplete picture because they each played one good game, played very well," Payne said of the two goalies. "The second game that Brian got in, there was a goal there ... these things are gonna happen.

"We've got to be patient about saying anything as to what our feelings are until we've got all that information to make a decision upon. Until that, it's we go over what we thought was positive, what we thought needed work and we move onto the next day. Until we get to having to make a decision, we'll continue to evaluate that way."

Elliott, brought in over the summer as a free agent after playing in Ottawa and Colorado last season, will have to earn his keep the rest of the way through practice time.

"He's got to continue to show the battle and stop pucks. We're watching in these drills, too," Payne said. "Shooters are still putting pucks on net. It's important that (pucks) stay out.

"We've got some game simulation stuff going (on) out there, six on five, power play, PK stuff. This is important. (Goalie coach Corey Hirsch is) paying particular attention to who's doing what out there, the pre-ice sessions with the goaltenders out there, who looks good in what. As much as it is getting better, it's also an evaluation for us."

* Cheechoo among cuts -- Winger Jonathan Cheechoo, a former Rocket Richard winner with the San Jose Sharks in 2005-06 for top goal scorer in a season with 56 goals, was among the roster cuts over the weekend.

Signed to a one-year, two-way contract, Cheechoo was among five players placed on waivers Monday (along with forwards Brett Sterling and T.J. Hensick as well as defensemen Danny Syvret and Brennan Evans).

Teams have until 11 a.m. today to place claims on them but they were all still allowed to begin camp with the American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria over the weekend.

"I thought the first couple games he was making some things happen," Payne said of Cheechoo, who had one assist in three games along with multiple scoring chances. "Some real good poise with the puck. Some real, real good creativity. I thought towards the end of that (second) game and into the third game, the pace started and workload started to catch up.

"He's close. Right now, we wanted to get down to this group. The guys we feel in this group are deserving to be here. The other guys performed well, we may get another look at them, but at this point, guys have to perform well to stay in this room right now."

* Down to the end -- Among the last round of forwards fightning for those final couple roster spots up front include Evgeny Grachev, Ryan Reaves, Philip McRae, Adam Cracknell and Chris Porter.

When asked what they can do to enhance their chances of making the opening day roster, Payne said, "Perform our team game and perform their individual skills at a high, high level. Show an incredible amount of drive that demonstrates or says to us that these guys need to be in a Blues uniform on Oct. 8, not just the guys that are here, it's the guys going into that opening day lineup. We've got our work cut out for us, as do they."

Grachev seems to have a leg up on the rest, registering two goals and an assist in three games.

"He's held serve so far," Payne said about Grachev.

* Injury report -- Veteran center Scott Nichol continues to get ready for the opening of the season, rehabbing and skating following a torn labrum in his left shoulder with San Jose last season which required surgery in May.

Nichol, who's targeted to be the opening-day fourth-line center, could get into preseason action at some point this week, maybe even tonight in Minnesota.

"We expect him to be ready to go at some point this week," Payne said. "... We'd definitely like to see him in there as soon as possible, with tomorrow being as soon as possible."

Winger Matt D'Agostini, who tweaked his groin last week and sat out a scheduled game against Minnesota, is expected to play against the Wild tonight according to Payne. D'Agostini, a 21-goal scorer a season ago, was back on the ice Monday.

* 5 in 5 brings 3-2 mark -- The Blues, who will play tonight in Minnesota before wrapping up preseason games at home against the Avalanche Thursday and Dallas Saturday afternoon, wrapped up the busy portion of their preseason schedule that saw them play five games in five nights.

After back-to-back wins over the Lightning, they followed those up with a 3-2 road win in Colorado and a 3-2 road loss in Dallas.

"I liked our team game in Colorado from a team concept, team focus standpoint," Payne said. "It looked like guys were very committed to doing the right things together. I thought we got off that page in the Dallas game. As exhibition games go, it was an exhibition ... game."

Perron set to resume hockey career

Post-concussion syndrome has sidelined forward
over 10 months; resumes light workouts, light ice time

ST. LOUIS -- It may not sound like much, but to David Perron, it's the first step to reclaiming what matters most in his life.

Playing hockey.

Perron, who has been out of the game since that crushing hit he took from San Jose's Joe Thornton on Nov. 4 that resulted in a concussion and ensuing post-concussion syndrome, begins the process of getting back into the Blues lineup by going through the standard NHLPA protocol of getting onto the ice.

Perron, who missed 72 games last season, will first go through the league-mandated baseline testing, which will be conducted at some point this week, then when he passes that, he'll go to the next step and work with the team's training staff. Perron then moves onto training in the exercise room and lastly, on the ice which would culminate a long and sometimes perplexing conclusion to this mysterious injury.

(Getty Images)
David Perron (57) has finally began the process of returning to the NHL.

The Blues' forward has resumed light exercising and skating, which Perron said started 3-4 weeks ago after consulting with Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the top concussion specialists in the country who practices in Boston. It's a small step but a giant leap compared to no news or change over the past several months.

While Perron is in the process of getting back onto the ice, there is no timetable for his return.

"The excitement of coming to the rink (Monday), I was probably more stressed than probably before my first NHL game," Perron said at Monday's press conference. "It's good to come here today at the rink. I'm looking forward to coming every day now and keep on progressing.

"It's good to be back in St. Louis and seeing all the guys before practice and meeting the new guys also. I'm just excited to drive back into St. Louis on the weekend with my two dogs and it was good to be back."

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was alongside Perron when making the announcement that the Blues and their fans have been waiting for.

Perron's symptoms have been relatively smaller and more infrequent, which has led to the first steps taken.

"It's an exciting day for myself, but not probably nearly as exciting as it is for David Perron to be back here ... where he should be in the rink with his teammates.

"As we progress now, David is going to be back with us, but I want to stress he's back to Square One, and what Square One means is he's now going to have to follow the NHLPA guidelines of the protocol needed to get back on the ice. He'll have to get a baseline test here, administered sometime this week. When he passes that, he'll go to the next step with our training staff. Then he'll progress to training in the room, training in the exercise room and then training on the ice."

Perron admitted just how difficult passing the time has been and not being able to compete with his teammates.

"It's been tough. All summer, just following all the hockey news that was coming out, even last year coming to the Scottrade (Center) and not being able to play, it's not easy," he said. "But it's something you have to go through. If you keep looking at the positive and knowing where I am right now and I keep making progress, that's what the positive is and that's what you've got to look at."

Along with getting helpful advice from teammate Andy McDonald and Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard, both who know a thing or two about concussions.

Just kind of sharing my experience with it," said McDonald, who missed 24 games last season with a concussion of his own. "I was fortunate to have some people talk to me when I went through it. It's kind of scary because sometimes there's not a lot of answers for him. There's no secret recipe that will help him get back quicker. So you just try and reassure him that what he's going through is kind of normal and that he's going to get better, he's going to get back on the ice and everything is going to be OK."

David Perron briefed the media Monday upon returning to
St. Louis. Perron has been out of hockey since suffering
a concussion last November.

Perron, who drove to St. Louis from his native Sherbrooke, Quebec (all 1,219 miles!), will begin the process immediately and at the necessary pace.

"You've got to listen to your body and listen to the people around you," Perron said. "Andy Mac has been really helpful in that situation. He's had a few concussions in his career. He's a guy that when I had a question, I'd go to him pretty much and ask him questions. It's pretty much what it is. There's nothing set in the ground on a certain date. It's not how this injury works."

Until he's ready and able to return, the team will continue to offer support and welcome Perron when the time is right.

"Well, it's just support. Until he's good, he's still got a ways to go," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "But a hockey player wants to be around hockey. So we'll support him in that situation. When he takes the next step and the next step, we'll continue to progress with him.

"Great to have him around, great to see him back. Still got a ways to go obviously, but he's one of us, so to see him back and see a smile on his face, it's a positive step."

Perron will continue to take the small steps necessary until one day, with the help of those monitoring his process, he will take THE step. The one that tells him to go full bore.

"I think towards the end, in my experience, there is a little bit of pushing through it," McDonald said. "I think David feels the same way. As far as I know he's not making a decision if he's going to play tomorrow. It's about getting back and being active again, getting on the ice, going through a routine, getting himself closer to being in shape. Then, making a decision at that point.

"There's also people there, support staff with the trainers and the doctors helping you along the way. In David's case, he's not by himself. There's a lot of people there that can watch over him and make sure that his health is not at risk of having another injury. Ultimately, I guess, it'll be his decision, but there are a lot of people there to bounce ideas off, evaluate him and give him a feel for it."

In the meantime, the Blues will be waiting ... as patiently as they have for the last 10 months.

"With this type of injury, David's going to tell us where he's at, and David's going to tell us when he's ready to progress to the next spot," Armstrong said. "We're here to listen, we're here to administer whatever care that needs to be given. ... We're going to push him, but only to the point where he's comfortable. I wish I could tell you that we expect him on the ice on this date, we expect him to put the jersey on for practice on this date and to play this date. That's not how these injuries are, how these returns happen. It's going to be based on his progression and how he feels on a day-to-day basis."

Said Perron, "We'll see when we start progressing again. I hate to say that, but that's what it is. I don't feel I'm that far off in terms of the strength, but at the same time, (being off) 9-10 months, there's going to be some strength to get back, endurance cardio and all that stuff. We'll see how it goes. It's just the beginning."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Perron set to rejoin Blues Monday

Forward will address situation at 11 a.m. at team's practice facility;
has been out since November with post-concussion syndrome

ST. LOUIS -- With the status of David Perron in recent months, the Blues' message was ... well, nothing.

That's because there was no news regarding Perron has been no news. There was no progress, and there was no regression either.

But without jumping the gun and deeming Perron fit and ready to resume his hockey career, the Blues announced that Perron is rejoining the team and will address the media along with Blues GM Doug Armstrong Monday morning at 11 a.m. at the team's practice facility inside St. Louis Mills.

Perron has not played for the Blues since the blindside hit by Joe Thornton that resulted in a concussion and ensuing post-concussion syndrome that has now gone on for 10 1/2 months.
(Getty Images)
Could the return of David Perron (left) be on the horizon for the Blues?

Armstrong said in August that Perron would not not be ready for camp and likely for the start of the season, but since the team is bringing him in and addressing the situation has to be encouraging to both the team and Perron himself.

here's going to be a process that he's going to have to take," Armstrong said of Perron in August. "You have to remember that he hasn't skated, trained (or) touched a puck for 10 months, so it's not only going to be the conditioning that he's going to have to get up to, it's going to have to be the hockey skill level that he's going to have to get up to; making the puck his friend again and getting through all that stuff."

Perron had gotten off to a strong start for the Blues through 10 games, with five goals and a pair of assists but was leveled near center ice with a Thornton shoulder check in a game on Nov. 4 that resulted in a two-game suspension.

"It's going to be a comfort standpoint that he has to get in the gym," Blues coach Davis Payne also said in August. "From where his body left him versus where he is now, how quickly as a young guy he's able to put that strength back in place. We've got a lot of data and benchmarks that we'll be able to monitor him and be able to say just how close to where he left he is. Then it's going to be a feel level on the ice, a conditioning level on the ice and there's going to be a comfort level with contact.

"When we get down this road, how comfortable is he with those situations? As competitive as he is and the types of areas he plays in, there's going to be a gradual process of each day going forward. There's going to be physical restrictions there, but then there's going to be the, 'Hey, how does the athlete feel' or get him closer and closer to live exercise."

Closer appears to be the operative word here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

(9-23-11) Blues-Avalanche Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The revolving goalie carousel takes a new turn tonight for the Blues.

Jake Allen, step up to the forefront. It will be the Fredericton, New Brunswick native's turn to take his shot in goal when the Blues play in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche at 8 p.m.

Allen was 25-19-3 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in his first full season playing for the Blues' American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria. The Blues' second-round pick (34th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft has a good idea that he will be back with the Rivermen this season and is making the most of his time showcasing for the Blues.

"It's going to be a good opportunity," Allen said Friday morning. "I had a chance to do it last year. It was fun, it was a good experience. It's just something that I want to (continue to) learn towards, put it in the book and just keep getting better. It's just another experience.

"I feel like I've transitioned well. I feel like I've improved. Last summer, I didn't get to work out at all because I had mono. This summer, I feel I've improved a lot. I've come in here with a good attitude and ready to work to show them what I can do."

Following Brian Elliott, Ben Bishop and Jaroslav Halak (tonight's backup), Allen will hope to build off of back-to-back solid performances with the Blues' prospects at Travserse City recently.

"He's been finding himself as a goaltender that's a top-notch prospect," Blues coach Davis Payne said of Allen. "He played very well in his last couple games in Traverse City. Now it's a chance to go into a tough building with what we feel will be a pretty good lineup and get a chance to evaluate him there.

"We like his makeup, his approach. We feel he's on the right path."

Working with assistant coach/goalies Corey Hirsch, Allen said there's not much in the way of changing his familiar habits.

"He doesn't try and change a lot, just the little details that he notices that really make the difference from junior to AHL and then AHL to NHL," Allen said of Hirsch. "Little things in your game, close around the net, being square to the puck and trying to be consistent night in and night out."

- - -

Adam Cracknell seems to have the knack for getting big goals during his short stint in a Blues uniform.

Even though it was only a preseason game, Cracknell found himself picking up the game-winner late in the third period Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-3 win.

Cracknell, who resigned a one-year, two-way contract over the summer, is one of a number of forwards battling for up to two roster spots available.

"It's nice to get rewarded," said Cracknell, who scored three goals and added four assists in 24 games last season and will be in the lineup tonight. "It's about going to the net, but they seem to be going in.

"The confidence is better and a lot more comfortable here. Knowing my game and getting a taste last year as well really helps. This summer was a good summer of training. I'm a lot more comfortable out there speed-wise. Conditioning as well. I know I can play here. It's all about playing with confidence when I get the chance and hopefully make a statement."

Cracknell said the relaxed, laid-back approach seems to work for him best in this camp battle, and Payne feels like each guy needs to do what suits him best.

"You have to approach it in whatever way works best for you," Payne said. "These guys know what's on the line. Guys deal with it in different ways. You have to prepare yourself mentally to put forth your best performance. If that means playing with a relaxed intensity, not thinking about it and focusing on just your game ... whatever works effectively."

- - -

The Blues play their fourth game in as many nights and will roll out the following lineup tonight:

Evgeny Grachev-David Backes-Jamie Langenbrunner

Brett Sterling-Philip McRae-Jonathan Cheechoo

Vladimir Sobotka-Adam Cracknell-Ty Rattie

Stefan Della Rovere-Stephen MacAulay-Ryan Reaves

Kent Huskins-Alex Pietrangelo

Nikita Nikitin-Ian Cole

Brennan Evans-Jake Gannon

Jake Allen gets his first start in goal; Halak will make the trip as the backup.

- - -

The Avalanche played its first preseason game Thursday and fell 5-2 in Dallas.

Here is the Avs' roster for tonight:

Goalies: Semyon Varlamov, Trevor Cann; defensemen: Joel Chouinard, David Liffiton, Erik Johnson, Cameron Gaunce, Duncan Siemens, Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliott; Forwards: David Van Der Gulik, Matt Duchene, Jay McClement, Brandon Yip, Greg Mauldin, Milan Hejduk, Paul Stastny, Joakim Lindstrom, Luke Walker, David Jones, Cody McLeod, Peter Mueller.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blues lose first preseason game

Peters goal lone tally in 1-0 Wild win; Halak debuts with 16 saves

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues got their first look at Jaroslav Halak after the duo battling for the backup job took their first dibs in goal.

The Blues will need Halak to become someone they can heavily rely on, to be the backbone of their netminders and be considered among those upper echelon goalies.

The Bratislava, Slovakia native was strong Thursday night aside from one shot he'd like to have back. That one shot turned out to be the only only goal in the Minnesota Wild's 1-0 win over the Blues at Scottrade Center.
(Getty Images)
Minnesota's Warren Peters (43) is being tailed by the Blues' Danny Syvret 
but scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory over the Blues
Thursday night.

Warren Peters provided the margin of victory with a backhand rooftop shot that somehow beat Halak on the near side with 3 minutes 27 seconds left in the second period.

The shot seamed to handcuff Halak, who thought he had the near side hugged long enough to allow the puck to hit him.

"Honestly, I thought I stopped it for sure," said Halak, who stopped 16 pucks in the game. "They started celebrating so apparently it went in. I have no idea how it went in. I need to see the video and go over it.

"I would rather give up that one now than during the season."

The Blues (3-1-0) outshot Minnesota (2-0-0) 32-17 in the game but were brushed aside by starter Niklas Backstrom, then Matt Hackett, who stopped 14 shots in the third period, including a glove stop of an Andy McDonald shot with 6:24 to play.

"The third period, I thought we had a pretty good push," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "I thought the (Ryan) Tesink line really had a couple shifts in there that got our level up. We go the one power play, had some chances, but we just couldn't find that one."

The Blues were 0-for-5 with the man advantage, including four missed opportunities in the opening 20 minutes.

"The power plays we had in the first period kind of seemed to get us into a little different mindset than we needed to through the middle part of that game," Payne said. "They played well defensively, kept things to the outside. I don't think we put enough pucks at the net, just in a manner of generating some momentum."

The Blues used a veteran-based lineup that included McDonald, Alex Steen, Jason Arnott, T.J. Oshie, Carlo Colaiacovo, Roman Polak, Halak, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jonathan Cheechoo (the game's third star), who led the Blues with six shots in the game and had some prime scoring chances.

"A real easy chance to go right up to the top of that list ... he had chances early," Payne said of Cheechoo. "A guy gets his cracks, eventually it's going to go in. ... He's around the net, knows how to get a stick to a spot where he can get it back, has an outlet. At some point, you figure one of these is going to go in for him. Hopefully, that's the one he needs."
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Carlo Colaiacovo (28) is being checked by the Wild's Brett
Bulmer as goalie Jaroslav halak (right) looks on Thursday night.

Halak made some of his best stops in the second period when the Wild peppered shots during a two-minute two-man advantage.

"You can ask your goalies not to give up many goals," Halak said. "That's all you can do. It's tough to win games when you don't score goals.

"Not many shots (faced). They didn't bring many (NHL) guys, but we've got to give them credit tonight. They played good."

Said Payne, "Other than that one goal, I thought it was good. ... Obviously, a backhander down the wing like that, we need to make sure that's a save."

* NOTES -- The Blues are in the middle of five games in five nights and there was little in the way of practice time to work on a plethora of things Payne wanted to get a look at.

Both players and coaches are going on the fly as far as practice time goes, so the leaning curve goes into full bore for those that are not playing on game days.

"You can tell (Payne's) trying to cram as much information as he can into what short time we have before any kind of games," said winger Matt D'Agostini, who sat out tonight's game with a groin strain after originally being in the lineup. "The guys are starting to get into it now and you can tell it's getting into that type of feel where you've got to start soaking things in as far as systems go. I don't think he's looking for too much of that in the preseason anyway. We're just going to go out and work hard and do what you do to showcase your skills and we'll go from there.

"I think everyone's going full bore. Everyone knows this is the time to get ready for the season. You've got to get your legs into it sooner than later. Everyone's going hard and the vets have really been leading the way and working hard. That shows the young guys and the first-year guys what kind of pace it takes to play up at this level."

. . . The Blues have trimmed their training camp roster down by three after assigning forward Cody Beach (Moose Jaw of the WHL), defenseman Brock Beukeboom (Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL) and goalie Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound of the OHL) back to their respective junior teams on Thursday. Beukeboom didn't get into any training camp practices because of an injured back.

(9-22-11) Wild-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Jamie Langenbrunner remembers when he was a kid in Minnesota and wanting to be like Mike Modano someday.

Little did the Cloquet, Minnesota native know one day that he would be drafted by the same organization that Mike Modano played for but also be a teammate and friend.

So when news filtered throughout the hockey world that Modano was calling it a career after 22 seasons in the league, it touched Langenbrunner in a special, yet bittersweet way.

"It's always sad to see those guys call it quits," Langenbrunner said Thursday morning. "He was such a great player in the NHL, but especially for an American kid, obviously, he's the benchmark. ... I still consider him a friend. Secondly, congratulations ... helluva career, 22 years. He did it all ... won a Stanley Cup. He turned a franchise in Dallas into something pretty special there for a long time. He did it by playing hard, changing his game and being a part of a team."

Langenbrunner, Modano's teammate in Dallas for seven-plus seasons, said Modano was like a big brother who took in those starting out.

"For me getting drafted by the Stars, it was a surreal experience sitting in the locker room next to him and later on in my career living next to him for a while, riding to the rink with him," Langenbrunner said. "He's a special person and obviously a special player.

"On the ice, you see the jersey flying behind him as he skated. It was almost like he had fans on his back. Other guys are pretty fast, but for some reason, when he skated, it was a whole new level. Off the ice, his demeanor ... he was very laid back, joking around, a fun guy to be around, a guy that always was making people laugh with things he said."

Modano, a Livonia, Michigan native, wraps up a career that saw him play in 1,499 games, score 561 goals, add another 813 assists for 1,374 points. He represented the United States at the World Juniors, World Championships, Winter Olympics and World Cup of Hockey and was an eight-time NHL all-star.

He also brought the Stanley Cup to Dallas in 1999 and Langenbrunner remembers how that was the pinnacle of his goals.

"The thing I'll remember is the joy when we won the Cup in Dallas," Langenbrunner said. "When he lifted that Cup, you could tell the relief he finally felt from capturing all the stuff he'd been through from both organizations. To finally get there, it was a pretty special time."

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a New Rochelle, New York native, said that Modano is the greatest American player.

"Without a doubt, he's was the first major American to come in ... especially in our generation," Shattenkirk said. "It's amazing that he was able to come in and be a top player for many years.

"It seems like he's happy with his decision and I'm happy for him. He put Americans on the map in that sense."

Langenbrunner said don't discount Modano returning to the game some day.

"I'm sure he's going to be doing something, either with the Stars organization or somewhere," he said. "I think he's got a lot to give, helping younger players or on the management/ownership side of things. He's a pretty smart man that's been around a lot of things. and I can see him getting involved with that pretty strongly."

- - -

The Blues (2-0-0), who downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in Orlando Wednesday, will play their third game in as many nights today at 7 p.m. against the Minnesota Wild (KMOX 1120-AM).

"Now that we've got a season schedule going here ... a game, day off, a game day off ... I think it allows guys to start getting ready. Guys are getting into a good mental mindset to really come to the rink and get ready to go."

Tonight will mark the debuts of Alex Steen, Jason Arnott, Andy McDonald, T.J. Oshie and Jaroslav Halak among others.

Here's tonight's lineup:

Alex Steen-Jason Arnott-Jonathan Cheechoo

Andy McDonald-Philip McRae-Matt D'Agostini

Chris Porter-Anthony Nigro-T.J. Oshie

Anthony Peluso-Ryan Tesink-Tyler Shattock

Carlo Colaiacovo-Roman Polak

Brett Ponich-Kevin Shattenkirk

Danny Syvret-David Shields

Jaroslav Halak gets the start; Brian Elliott is the backup.

- - -

The Wild is 1-0-0 and will use the following lineup:

Colton Gillies-Eric Nystrom-Brad Staubitz

Kris Foucault-Zack Phillips-Brett Bulmer

Jeff Taffe-Warren Peters-Jed Ortmeyer

Jarold Palmer-Taylor Peters-Carson McMillan

Marco Scandella-Nate Prosser

Justin Falk-Jordan Hendry

Tyler Cuma-Chay Genoway

Niklas Backstrom and Matt Hackett will be the goaltenders.