Last night the St. Louis Blues took a new approach to their week long training camp by hosting a scrimmage. Separated into two teams, Blue and White, the St. Louis Blues took the ice for their first game of the season, sort of.
The Scottrade Center at the corner of 14th and Clark was packed with over 8,000 Blues fans, a group that was as loud as a sellout crowd. While St. Louis Blues fans may be in game shape already, the same might not be said for the Blues roster.
“We saw kind of what we thought we see,” Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We had some lines with good continuity. They had continuity at practice, and then they showed up in the game today. And then we had guys who you can see, they didn’t play. There was a lot of rust at times from some people who haven’t played.
“The biggest thing for us who recognized themselves that there’s another level that obviously they’ve got to get to, to get ready for the season. Any of the players that didn’t play a lot have really recognized that. That will get their attention for the next 3 days, as we prepare for things. This was a real good refresher point for players and coaches.”
The scrimmage was set up so that there would be two squads playing two 25 minute periods of 5 on 5 hockey, one 20 minute period of 5 on 4 hockey, and then two shootouts.
For the scrimmage the Blues chose to call up a few players including, Evgeny Grachev, Andrew Murray, Phillip McRae, Mark Cundari, and Taylor Chorney, among others, to see where they would fit into the St. Louis lineup.
Andy McDonald, David Perron, Chris Stewart, Jaden Schwartz, and Mark Cundari scored the goals in the 4-4 tie between the two sets of St. Louis Blues rosters. “The whole White forward group, all three lines were very effective,” said Coach Ken Hitchcock. “I think even the line that came in and played from Peoria (Evgeny Grachev, Andrew Murray, and Philip McRae) had some great continuity. Berglund’s line (with Jaden Schwartz and Chris Stewart) was very effective. Schwartz was really on the hunt and created a lot of issues for defense and then obviously McDonald’s line (featuring Alex Steen and top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko) with their skill and puck support was very effective.”
Both first round picks from 2010 showed their strengths as Jaden Schwartz managed a goal and an assist while Vladimir Tarasenko showed his incredible promise on the ice. Hitchcock assured the media after the scrimmage that, “unless things change, it looks like Tarasenko and Schwartz can more than keep up.”
With the tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott split up, fans and coaches of the St. Louis Blues got a good look at both goaltenders. Hitchcock said that they both played an incredible game, until they got tired later in the night. This is part of the conditioning that Hithcock is worried about and will be pushing his players until they can prove that they are able to last all night.
At one point in the night, St. Louis Blues fans got a treat by seeing a bit of a scuffle between David backs and Roman Polak along the side boards. The refs of the evening had to blow the whistle just to separate the two. While no hard feelings will be had by either, it does show that this team is ready to take on the challenges of a real game.
After the scrimmage Hitchcock discussed what he saw throughout the night and what his thoughts are going into this condensed schedule, “Everybody is talking about this. I talked to four coaches today. Everybody said the same thing, ‘Oh my God.’ Looked great in practice and looked like there was speed when there was limited players on the ice. All of the sudden, there’s 10 players on the ice and everything changes. So everybody is in the same boat. There’s no team, anybody that scrimmaged yesterday or today got a real eye opener. We all did. It’s just the reality check of where you’re at. We’re going to be a good team, but we all know we’ve got good work.”
So while the St. Louis Blues continue to work on and off the ice in practice, the fans now wait just a few more days until opening night at Scottrade against the rival Red Wings. It should be a great game. As always, LET’S GO BLUES!