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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:09 am 
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The St. Louis Blues are dealing with a lot of late-season injuries to key offensive players, but there is a reason they have overcome those potential setbacks and kept winning.

The performance of several younger players, led by Magnus Paajarvi, Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford, has helped the Blues deal with the absence of Paul Stastny, Robby Fabbri, Jori Lehtera and Dmitrij Jaskin.

Paarjarvi, who had two goals in Thursday night's 4-1 win over Vancouver, and Barbashev spent much of this season playing in the minor leagues, as did Sanford, acquired from Washington in the February trade that sent Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals.

"The guys that have come up, young guys, have been fantastic playing in all situations," said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. "We need more of that. It's always good to get a little bit of youth in there, a little bit of excitement. We lost Fabbs there so you replace him with a couple other guys that are excited to be here. The maturity in their game on the ice is the thing that's pretty impressive, and to come in and play the way they have in those situations.

"I think the biggest thing is they're getting the opportunity. It's always nice as a young player to get looks. Those guys are getting looks on the power play and the penalty kill, and they're playing in all situations. When the coach shows trust in you like that it really builds you as a player."

The Blues have won four in a row and nine of their last 10 as they battle the Nashville Predators for third place in the Central Division. The two teams are tied, but the Blues have the tiebreaker. Each team has nine games left in the regular season, including one head-to-head matchup

Coach Mike Yeo said those young players are getting more responsibilities at a critical time of the year because they have earned it.

"It's a real good sign for our organization," Yeo said. "The injuries that we've had, a lot of teams wouldn't be able to get through a spell like this. For these guys to come up and not only not hurt you but to actually help you and produce, it's a real good sign for the future and a real big part of maintaining what we have going now."

The Flames come into Saturday night's game on a two-game losing streak as they also are fighting for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. They lost 3-1 in Nashville on Thursday night.

Coach Glen Gulutzan was upbeat despite the loss.

"There's no cause for worry," Gulutzan told the Calgary Sun. "It wasn't like we were dominated and weren't ready to play. We were ready to play. They're a good hockey club. We just have to keep doing our thing and moving forward."

One area of the Flame' game Gulutzan would like to see improve is their power play. That unit was 0-for-5 against Nashville and is now 0-for-12 in their last five games.

"We need to shoot the puck more," Gulutzan told the Sun. "I thought they did a good job of shutting us down. But we didn't execute, either. We had them in precarious positions and we didn't execute, we iced it on ourselves. We weren't good enough on the power-play and that's what cost us in an even hockey game."
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Blues • It could be former goaltending partners Jake Allen and Brian Elliott battling each other for the first time. The Blues have faced Calgary twice this season, but Allen met Chad Johnson in the first meeting Oct. 22 and Elliott squared off against Carter Hutton Oct. 25. ... The teams split the two previous meetings, with Allen winning a 6-4 decision in the first game and Elliott claiming a 4-1 victory three nights later. ... The Blues are on a four-game winning streak and have won eight of their last nine games ... The penalty-killing unit has erased 19 consecutive power plays over the last five games, and the Flames’ power play hasn’t converted on its last 12 chances, also covering five games.

Flames • Calgary is narrowly holding down the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 86 points, one ahead of the Nashville Predators. The Flames had a three-point lead over the Preds but fell 3-1 to them Thursday night in Nashville. ... Elliott is 23-14-3 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. He recently had an 11-game winning streak snapped with a 4-2 loss at Washington. ... Matthew Tkachuk, the son of former Blue Keith Tkachuk, is eligible to return following a two-game suspension for elbowing LA’s Drew Doughty. ... Sean Monahan leads the Flames with 24 goals and 50 points this season.

Injuries • Blues — C Paul Stastny (lower body), LW Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body), C Jori Lehtera (upper body) and LW Robby Fabbri (knee), out. Flames — D Ladislav Smid (neck), out.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:13 am 
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What's up with the early start? It certainly isn't for any national television, because the game isn't on HNIC, NBCSN, or NHLN, nor is it for basketball, baseball, or any other sport I can find.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:17 am 
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Not sure why it is 6 instead of 7 either. I don't mind though- I'm taking the kids to this one :okman: so the early start time allows us to watch the whole game and still get them home and in bed at a decent time.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:40 pm 
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Forwards

Jaden Schwartz - Alexander Steen - Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Zach Sanford - Ivan Barbashev - Nail Yakupov
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Defense

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson - Robert Bortuzzo

Goalie

Jake Allen

Quote:
Jake Allen and Brian Elliott have always been big-time competitors.

They both competed like hell to become No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL, and they competed with each other as they battled for starts between the pipes for the St. Louis Blues over the previous three seasons.

Tonight at 6 p.m. (FSMW, KMOX) - for the first time ever - Allen and Elliott will compete against each other in an NHL game, one that happens to matter an awful lot for both clubs.

"This will be fun," Allen said of facing his former teammate tonight. "It's a big game for both teams, so it will be fun to play 'Ells.' He's a great goalie and I've always said he's one of the best in the League. Points are crucial for both teams right now. Hopefully it will be a good game."

"I feel like we've battled in practice for many years against each other, trying to make a better save than the other guy," Elliott added. "It's pretty cool to be able to play against your friends, but at this time of the year, it's not so friendly anymore."

Last summer, the Blues traded Elliott to the Calgary Flames at the 2016 NHL Draft, acquiring a second-round draft pick (Jordan Kyrou) and a conditional third-round pick in 2018. The deal solidified Allen as the Blues' bonafide No. 1 goaltender, which was supported by a four-year contract extension that would keep Allen in St. Louis through the 2020-21 season.

Allen has rewarded the Blues with a 29-19-3 record, setting a new career-high in wins. He's also posted a 2.44 goals-against average, a .913 save-percentage and four shutouts. Allen has won seven of his last nine starts to help the Blues move into third in the Central Division and more-comfortably into the playoff picture.

Elliott, after a slow start to the season, had reeled off wins in 11 consecutive starts before losing to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. For the season, the former Blue is 23-14-3 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .911 save-percentage.

Thanks in part to Elliott's recent success, the Flames have taken over the top Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and currently sit nine points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who are the first team on the outside of the playoff picture in the West.

"There's obviously some competition between the two, some healthy competition, when they were teammates," said Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo, who joined the Blues after Elliott was dealt to Calgary. "In the time I've gotten to know Jake, I'm quite certain there's a little bit of a personal side to it, but he's also much more aware of our situation, the game and the meaning of (tonight's) game. I'm sure that will be his focus."

The excitement of facing off against former teammates goes far beyond just the goalies. Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said he's looking forward to seeing Allen vs. Elliott tonight as well.

"They're both competitors, they've always been like that. I'm sure there's going to be a little friendly head-to-head there," Pietrangelo said. "It's exciting. And they've got (Troy) Brouwer over there, too. He's certainly going to make life miserable for me, too. It's always fun playing against guys you have a relationship with and kind of brings out the best in you a lot of the time. Guys will be ready to go."

The Blues and Flames have split the season series so far. Allen and the Blues won 6-4 with Chad Johnson between the pipes in Calgary on Oct. 22, while Elliott and the Flames beat the Blues 4-1 on Oct. 25 with Hutton in goal.

With a win tonight and a Nashville loss to San Jose, the Blues would further solidify their hold on third place in the Central Division and inch closer towards clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Calgary, meanwhile, is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak but are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.

"We're in a dog fight here," Allen said. "We've got four teams battling for the last couple of spots, and we're all playing well. We're all winning games so nobody is making up any ground on each other."

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:59 pm 
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This Day in History
1924 Georges Vezina shuts out Calgary 3-0 helping the Canadiens win Cup for the first time since 17-18 formation of NHL
1951 Detroit Red Wings become first team to reach 100 points in a season
1972 Rookie Mike Murphy scored his first career hat trick in 5-3 win over Red Wings
1972 Bobby Hull joins Gordie Howe as the only NHL players with 600 goals at that point in time
1962 Bobby Hull becomes 3rd player to score 50 goals in a season
1982 Wayne Gretzky becomes first player in NHL history to score 200 points in one season with a 2 SHGs in 27 seconds (another record setter) and 2 assists ending the night with 203 points as Oilers defeat Flames 7-2
1994 Brett Hull scored his fifth 50th goal and his 21st career hat trick in 5-3 win over Dallas Stars
1992 Scotty Bowman becomes first NHL coach with 900 career victories.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:27 pm 
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The Blues have started off playing well. I hope they keep skating hard and keeping the pressure on The Flames' defence.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:32 pm 
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I hope Berglund is okay. He landed on his hand. He needs his hands to score. He went into the locker room. I wonder if it's painful enough for him to get an X-Ray (or he heard a bone crack). I hope not.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:37 pm 
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Good to see Bergie back on the bench! :banana:

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:39 pm 
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The Blues need to score on this power play!

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:43 pm 
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Great pass through the defenceman's legs by Yakupov to get the puck to Sanford for a good PP chance. He's been looking better lately.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:53 pm 
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TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE call giving The Blues the only penalty from that scrum. Then, The Blues were too lax in letting The Flames into their zone, allowing Brouwer to get his shot off easily. The Blues will need to refocus between periods.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:57 pm 
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And Steen sucking on faceoffs (0 for 2) and Yeo avoiding him taking draws continues. 1 of those two failures led to an excellent shot against so out comes Brodziak while Schwartz goes to the bench for the faceoff.

Why pull Schwartz off the ice and insert Brodziak for a faceoff while leaving Steen? Shouldn't it be pulling Steen for Brodziak since Schwartz can win a draw were Brodziak to be kicked out?

So you are missing Stastny. Quit putting a guy in a position he isn't suited to playing and use the guys who are more natural at it.

Officiating in this one sucks. Calgary hits guys late darn near every time a Blues player moves the puck and uses their sticks a ton. Not surprising they are most penalized team in league. That last Flames PP should have never happened. How in the hell do the other 3 officials miss it and not say something to the one guy who completely missed Elliott spearing Upshall while Brodie punched Upshall? What's that? The ref who blew the call in Calgary's favor is from Alberta? Really???

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:20 pm 
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And another uncalled late hit by Calgary. Should have been Blues PP. But no... penalty only called on Tkachuk when Upshall retaliated. If refs aren't going to protect players from late hits, players are going to take action on their own.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:28 pm 
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Barbashev rifles in his own rebound off the heel of a defenceman!! Blues tie it at 1!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:36 pm 
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The Blues need to take the lead before this period is over.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:15 pm 
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Barbashev should have scored there, on that great set-up!

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:20 pm 
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Schwartz drives to the net and the puck went in off his leg. It didn't look like he had a kicking motion. The goal is good!!! Blues lead 2-1!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:42 pm 
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Regardless of this game's outcome, Calgary would be a frustrating team to play in a 7 game series. Physical, solid defensively, skilled and controlled. Plus, they're getting solid goaltending. They look like a tough out.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:51 pm 
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Super save by Allen on Monahan!

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:00 pm 
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It's no accident that Calgary is now 13-4 in OT. They're too fast for most teams, and with all that empty space they are almost impossible to stop. A frustrating loss. ALL 3 goals were flukes (or on a bad call). :cry:

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