The festivities of celebrating the St. Louis Blues 50th season in the NHL begins this afternoon at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis at the Blues’ Ice Breaker. Fans will be able to join members of the original Blues 1967 team, and other stars including Chris Pronger, Bernie Federko, Neil Komadoski, John Wensink, Terry Yake, Mike Zuke and Bruce Affleck. That event starts at 5 p.m.
Then the puck will drop where the Blues will open the season against the team they booted from the first-round of the playoffs in April. It will be the first time since 1989 that the Blues will open the season in Chicago to start the next chapter in this long standing rivalry with the Blackhawks. This will be the 302nd meeting between the two.
After tonight’s game it’s a quick turnaround for the Blues who open their home schedule on Thursday against Minnesota.
Some things to look for:
Goalie Jake Allen. After suffering an ankle injury in their final preseason game at home against the Hawks, Allen declares himself ready to go. With the absence of Brian Elliott, how will Carter Hutton fill that back-up role? Hutton was one of the better performers in camp and the team expects not much of a drop off in play.
Russian forward Nail Yakupov and Vladimir Tarasenko. Yakupov is considered by many within hockey circles as being a bust. Highly drafted, he didn’t deliver the numbers they expected in Edmonton. My hockey sources tell me Yakupov is the type of player that Ken Hitchcock can mold to fit within his system. Playing with fellow countryman Tarasenko and a change of scenario may help.
Hitch gets it done. The Blues point out on their website that since Hitchcock was hired on Nov. 8, 2011, the Blues have posted the NHL’s best regular season record at 224-103-36 (.667).