A Clean Sweep
Down in the hockey hotbed that is Orlando, FL the St. Louis Blues beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Wednesday night. Nikita Nikitin, Ian Cole (PP), Chris Stewart and Adam Cracknell (GWG) all scored for the Blues. For those who couldn’t hear the game on local Orlando radio the Tampa broadcast team raved about Patrik Berglund‘s play. Evgeny Grachev had another solid outing as well. Stewart had the primary assist on Nikitin’s and Cole’s goals. Giving him three points on the night to lead all players.
Jeremy Rutherford reports Ben Bishop made 21 saves. Judging by the Tampa coverage Bishop performed well. Darren Pang agrees.
A Wild Opponent
The Blues play their third preseason game in three days at 7:00pm down at Scottrade. The Minnesota Wild, a regular on the September schedule, appear in their second warmup contest. Their first was a 4-3 win at Edmonton on Tuesday night.
According to Lou Korac, here are the lineups for both clubs.
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.
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.
Note the big names dressing for the first time this season: Oshie, Steen, McDonald, Arnott and Halak.
Don’t read too much in to Elliott backing up Halak. The Blues have already said that the goalies are expected to play through an entire game. With Halak likely starting three with Jake Allen, Bishop and Elliott getting two a piece.
For those who don’t just follow the big guys, we’ve seen Anthony Nigro has quietly performed well thus far. He’s centering hard working Chris Porter and Oshie. Are the Blues testing him to see what else he can offer the Rivermen this season other than a figure on the body count chart? Stands to reason.
After another big game for Grachev, Phil McRae gets his chance to answer as he centers McDonald and D’Agostini. A spot likely reserved for David Backes come October 8th. A power forward McRae is not, but he did bulk up his plus sized frame quite a bit over the summer. Using it to create space and work the boards for his wingers is what to watch for tonight.
I can tell Peoria head coach Jared Bednar has at least some pull with Davis Payne. Dave Shields makes his preseason debut but he will not be with Traverse City partner Brett Ponich. The former Portland Winterhawks captain is skating with Kevin Shattenkirk. There again is the balance dynamic in the pairings. Ponich simulates Kent Huskins/Nikitin.
Sent Packing to Juniors
According to Belleville News-Democrat Blues scribe Norm Sanders, three are leaving training camp for their respective CHL clubs.
Tarasenko and Lehtera Highlights
I just discovered the website OnHockey.ru thanks to HF Boards. Looks like you can get lengthy videos of KHL games on the site. One thing is for sure seeing Sibir‘s 5-4 win over Salavat Yulaev, Jori Lehtera can dish the puck. Get him on a line with a big body to create space and a shooter the Blues could be on to something. For Vladimir Tarasenko homers, you don’t see a rediculous turnover leading to a goal… of course, he makes up for it with a sick shootout goal.