Asked before Saturday's season opener for his impression of the Blues, Detroit coach Mike Babcock replied: "I just read that they're going to win the Cup. ... They're good and we better be ready for them." Detroit wasn't ready, but a case could be made that neither was the soldout crowd of 20,035 at Scottrade Center for what the Blues uncorked on the Red Wings in the first game action since last May. Spirited by Vladimir Tarasenko's two goals in his NHL debut, and two from the reinvigorated Chris Stewart, the Blues charged out of the gates in the first game of a their lockout-shortened, 48-game schedule with a 6-0 victory over the Red Wings. On a night when the Blues played their first game under new ownership, and Detroit played its first without future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, a changing of the guard in the Central Division picked up where it left off as the defending champs blanked the Red Wings on just 14 saves by goaltender Jaroslav Halak. "We worked, and I think when we work and we initiate, we're a good team, and that's what we did tonight," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. It marked the Blues' first shutout in a season opener in franchise history. The only development that may have caught Halak off-guard was how crisp his own club played in front of him. The Blues had 10 players compete in Europe during the lockout, while others practiced in North America, leading Hitchcock to wonder how long it would take to get the club on the same page. The answer: only a few shifts. Within seven minutes, they had their first goal of the new season, and it belonged to the Russian newcomer. Tarasenko, who spent the first four years of his professional career playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, quickly took a liking to the smaller rink-size in North America. He received a heads-up pass from defenseman Ian Cole, found himself with an open lane to the net and buried the souvenir puck past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. "He's extremely impressive," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "The way he handles the puck, his shot. He took it to a different level tonight."
Blues blank Detroit 6-0 in season opener
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Jan 20