The St. Louis Blues hope a visit from the Chicago Blackhawks can put them out of their early season funk.
Chicago knocked St. Louis out of the playoffs last spring and enter tonight’s game with a 4-1-1 record to start the season.
St. Louis on the other hand is 2-3-1 this season including a 1-2-0 record at home.
“We’re not playing the right way,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “We’ve made a heck of a run here playing the right way; no odd-man rushes, no forced offense, don’t give the puck away and make hope-for plays offensively.
“(But) we want to play a different game right now, so until we buy into that, we’re going to have some rough water we’re going to have to go through, and that’s what we’re in right now. We’re in rough water.”
The Blues enter tonight’s contest coming off back-to-back losses to the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks.
“They’re big (games),” defenseman Barret Jackman said of his team’s meeting with Chicago. “Obviously with the playoffs last year, this is another step to making this one of the biggest rivalries in the NHL. They have a team that plays four lines, they’re coming hard, they’ve added Brad Richards to the third line…they’ve got a lot of depth and the rivalry is probably going to intensify.”
Chicago visits St. Louis coming off its’ first regulation loss of the season, 3-2 in Nashville, Thursday night.
“They have a good team,” defenseman Duncan Keith said of the Blues. “They have a good organization with great coaching and good players. They’re a tough team to play against. They play hard, they compete hard and they play their system well. It just makes for a challenging game playing those guys. It’s fun at the same time.”
Dmitrij Jaskin, who was recalled after Paul Stastny (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve, makes his regular season debut for the Blues tonight.
“Look, out of training camp, he deserved to be on the team,” Hitchcock said. “I’m sure it’s going to take him a couple of games to get revved up here and get back up to speed, but he went down to the American (Hockey) League with a great attitude.
“This is his opportunity and we’re hoping he takes advantage of it.”
Jaskin has a goal and four points through four games with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League this season.
“I’m going to try and do my best and do everything I can to stay here,” Jaskin said. “I don’t want to be that guy traveling back and forth. I’m going to do everything I can.
“It’s a huge game, big opportunity for me.”
Tonight marks the first of five meetings between the divisional rivals. They’ll reconvene in Chicago Dec. 3.