After a long, seven month weight, the St. Louis Blues' season begins anew. First games of the season are always a special day - new promises, optimism, and the ease of separation anxiety all combine into relief that the best sport on earth's returned to St. Louis. Sure, the Cardinals are NLCS bound, but this is different. This is hockey.
This is also David Backes' first official game as captain of the Blues. Backes, who was an assistant captain last season, was the dominant scoring force on the team last year and should be again this season. He, coupled with fellow power-forward Chris Stewart, should have tremendous seasons. Patrik Berglund as well should have a stronger season than last year, which is impressive considering last season he netted 22 goals and 30 assists.
Backes led the Blues in scoring against the Predators last season, with three goals and five assists. Jaroslav Halak had a miniscule 1.14 GAA with a shutout against the Blues' Central Division rivals. Tonight's game will be a challenge against the always tough Predators, which should make for a very exciting opening night matchup.
Defensively, for the first game of the season, the question of "who will warm the press box stool" has been answered. Nikita Nikitin will be playing tonight, and Kent Huskins is the healthy scratch. Louie Korac has the full line-up for tonight's game, and as no surprise Ryan Reaves is starting tonight in place of the injured B.J. Crombeen:
Andy McDonald-David Backes-Jamie Langenbrunner
T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Alex Steen-Jason Arnott-Matt D'Agostini
Vladimir Sobotka-Scott Nichol-Ryan Reaves
Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Nikita Nikitin-Roman Polak
The healthy scratches, along with Huskins, are Evgeny Grachev and Chris Porter.