Blues keep it simple away from Scottrade Center; Morrow to stay
back, Paajarvi to travel; Lapierre set to return; goalies to split games
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Having only played three road games in October, the Blues embarked on their first extended trip away from the confines of home to begin November.
After a hard, rigorous practice on Thursday, the team jetted off for a two-game jaunt through Florida (they'll play the Panthers Friday night at Tampa Bay Saturday night) before heading north of the border to Montreal to face the Canadiens Tuesday.
The Blues are 7-1-2 overall but 2-0-1 on the road and have earned points in each road game. Had it not been for a seven-minute hiccup in Winnipeg Oct. 18, the Blues would be a perfect 3-0-0 away from Scottrade Center but five of six points is a nice start, and they're looking for more.
How do they do it? By playing a more simpler game, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.
"He likes to call it that north game that we like to play when we get pucks in the neutral zone and we're just very direct," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of Hitchcock. "We get pucks over the red line, we put them in deep and start banging away at teams. I think that's what wears them down and ultimately doesn't really allow them to gain momentum and grab the crowd and take the energy from there as well."
Defenseman Barret Jackman, despite the Blues being 5-1-1 on home ice, said teams tend to be a little more amped up in front of the home crowd.
"You get caught up in the crowd a little bit and maybe you're a little more emotional when you're at home and you try and do a little but too much," Jackman said. "Our game's got to be simple and for us to have success and to frustrate teams, you've got to be a little more direct and a lot simpler team. That's what we talked about the last week.
"Going on the road, we'll get back to the basics and do that. ... We're just going to go in and play simple games in Florida and Tampa and Montreal and really get back to what our team identity needs to be to win."
The Blues were able to spend four days in Charleston, S.C. after road games in Chicago and Winnipeg, but this extended trip will be the start of 15 games in 29 days and get the Blues back into the swing of their schedule.
"Charleston was different," Shattenkirk said. "It was more of a team trip. It didn't really feel like it was hockey time. This is business. This will be good to go down and get back-to-back games to really feel like you're back in the season again and then obviously go to Montreal, which is a very tough place to play but fun if you're in the NHL, and that's what you love."
* Morrow, Paajarvi out -- Hitchcock said Thursday that winger Brenden Morrow (upper body) would not accompany the team to Florida after taking a cross check to the rib area Tuesday in a 3-2 win over Winnipeg.
Morrow did not skate but could rejoin the team Monday in Montreal.
Also, Magnus Paajarvi (upper body), who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Saturday, was on the flight to Florida and will skate Friday.
"He's going to just stay here and then we'll evaluate him on Monday to see if he's going to join us in Montreal," Hitchcock said of Morrow. He's day today but Magnus will join us on the trip and skate with us tomorrow. Brenden will stay here for the weekend and see if he's going to join us in Montreal for Monday's practice."
Hitchcock was undecided if a call-up was necessary from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, leaving that up to general manager Doug Armstrong, and the Blues' GM did make a move, recalling Chris Porter from the Wolves Thursday afternoon.
Porter, who was the last player cut on the final day prior to NHL teams setting their 23-man rosters before opening the regular season, had four assists in seven games with the Wolves.
* Lapierre returns -- After serving his five-game suspension for boarding San Jose's Dan Boyle from behind Oct. 15, center Maxim Lapierre will return to the lineup on the fourth line and skate between Adam Cracknell and Ryan Reaves Friday against the Panthers.
"It feels like I just got out of training camp," Lapierre joked after practice Thursday. "I came out and basically played four games in 30 seconds. I think I did the right things on and off the ice during the suepension and I feel ready.
"You always try to keep it simple. I'm going to try and focus on being good in my positioning. Obviously you work hard and build from there."
Hitchcock said Lapierre won't miss a beat.
"He's ready to go. He's been practicing like heck," Hitchcock said. "It's not like he's coming off an injury. It isn't something he had to do any rehab with. There's going to be a conditioning thing. When you miss five games ... for us, it was three weeks. That's going to be a conditioning issue we're going to have to deal with, but our biggest thing is he up to killing penalties and things like that, critical special teams stuff, so we've got to get to that."
* Goalies to split -- Brian Elliott will make his third appearance and second start of the season Friday against the Panthers. Elliott is 0-0-1 with a 3.53 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. He relieved Jaroslav Halak Oct. 15 when the Blues lost to the Sharks 6-2. Elliott's lone start was against the Jets Oct. 18, a 4-3 shootout loss.
Halak, who is 7-1-1 with a 2.16 GAA and .917 save percentage, will get the start Saturday when the Blues face the Lightning.