St. Louis Blues Look to Come Out Firing Against Edmonton Oilers in Opener


St. Louis Blues Game 1/82: Thursday, October 8, 7:00 PM CT vs. Edmonton Oilers

The St. Louis Blues get their 48th regular season underway on Thursday night, facing the Edmonton Oilers at Scottrade Center. The Blues, who are setting out to shake their reputation as a team that’s great in the regular season but bad in the postseason during 2015-16, will be facing an Oilers team that they beat three times during 2014-15.

This Oilers team won’t be quite as easy to contend with, however, as Edmonton now has 18-year-old first overall pick Connor McDavid, who is the most hyped prospect to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2005. Edmonton doesn’t have a whole lot of other playmakers around McDavid at the moment–their leading returning scorer, Jordan Eberle, will begin the season on injured reserve, leaving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as their only returning 20-goal scorer–but they’ll hope that McDavid can get up to speed very quickly and become somewhat of a one-man wrecking crew.

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The Blues will debuting a bigger, faster lineup that features more athletically gifted new players like Troy Brouwer, Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, and Kyle Brodziak and gives expanded roles to some potential impact players like Paul Stastny and Dmitrij Jaskin. The hope is that this shakeup will allow the Blues to play a more aggressive style that is more conducive to postseason success. So while every date on the 82-game schedule is important, a major focus of the Blues’ Thursday meeting with an Oilers franchise that they haven’t lost to since March 26 of 2013 is making sure that the adjusted strategy works in a game that matters.

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock announced on Wednesday that Brian Elliott will be the starting goalie for the opener, marking the second straight season that Elliott will be the team’s opening night starter. He’ll be in a spirited competition for playing time during the month of October, and Jake Allen will start on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.

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Forward Robby Fabbri and defenseman Colton Parayko will definitely be making their NHL debuts on Thursday night after cracking the roster out of training camp. Parayko, the Blues’ biggest defenseman, could potentially bring a whole new element of skill to the lineup, as he’s a skilled two-way player who could make a major impact on the power play with his plus slapshot.

It’s also possible that rookie Joel Edmundson could be in the lineup and paired with Parayko on the final defensive pairing, though the fact that Hitchcock announced Parayko being in the lineup on Wednesday and didn’t do the same for Edmundson is probably a sign that Robert Bortuzzo has the edge over Edmundson for Thursday’s game.
Here’s a guess at how the Blues’ lines figure to shape up on Thursday:

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Jori LehteraJaden Schwartz

Dmitrij Jaskin-David Backes-Troy Brouwer

Steve Ott-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Alex PietrangeloJay Bouwmeester

Carl GunnarssonKevin Shattenkirk

Colton Parayko-Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott

Next: Blues Sign Scott Gomez to One-Year Deal