With three practices under his belt and a locker stall next to Colton Parayko at Enterprise Center, new Blues defenseman Justin Faulk is ready to get his skates wet with his new team tonight.
Paired with Alex Pietrangelo, Faulk will make his Blues debut against the visiting Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. tonight.
“It’ll be nice just to play a hockey game,” Faulk said. “Lot of stuff going on and figuring my way around. But like I said before, it’s still hockey and you’re just kinda playing. It’ll probably be maybe the easiest part of the transition so far, just getting in games and getting settled in that way.”
Faulk said lightheartedly that he messed up a couple of drills during Friday’s morning skate. But he’s anxious to get going on the ice, having played in only one preseason game for Carolina prior to Tuesday’s trade that sent him to St. Louis as part of a package that saw the Hurricanes get Joel Edmundson in return. (Faulk’s locker stall is Edmundson’s old spot at Enterprise.)
“I think I need a couple opportunities to just learn the system a little bit and just figure out what’s going on here,” Faulk said. “We haven’t had too many practice days. But I think that’s the easy part is learning hockey and figuring out what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Coach Craig Berube said after the morning skate that Pietrangelo will start on the left side, but wouldn’t rule out having Faulk play a couple of shifts on the left side. Both D-men are righthanded shooters, so there will be an adjustment in learning to play the so-called offside.
There was also a little confusion Friday morning because Faulk thought he was playing on the left side tonight, not Pietrangelo.
“I guess I thought I was playing left until you said that,” Faulk told reporters. “It’s gonna get switched around as we go out there anyways. Like I said, (Pietrangelo's) a good player and he can handle it and I think I can handle it as well.”
Ville Husso, the No. 3 goalie on the Blues’ depth chart behind Jordan Binnington and Jake Allen, gets the start against the Capitals and is expected to play the full game.
With only the preseason finale left Sunday in Columbus, it’s almost certainly his last chance to impress the coaching staff before he gets assigned to San Antonio, the Blues’ American Hockey League affiliated.
“Yeah, I think so,” Husso said. “Two games left. It’s a good opportunity for me. I just need to go there and enjoy.”
As for his play this preseason. . . .
“I think there were a lot of good things,” Husso said. “And of course there’s things that I can still do a little better. It’s been good camp. And it’s nice to get some action and good games. It’s been a long time since I played full game last time. So I’m really happy right now.”
This will be Husso’s third game of the preseason, but his first full game. He played the first two periods of the preseason opener in Dallas _ a 2-0 Blues win _ and played the third period and overtime of the Blues’ 4-3 win in Winnipeg a week ago.
Overall, he’s stopped 23 of 24 shots he’s faced this preseason. He appreciates the work he’s been given by the organization.
“Yeah, it says something of course,” Husso said. “I’ve talked with many people with the organization. They drafted me and they see that I’m like good goalie, so I just need to focus on my own game and play game by game. And try to be everyday better than yesterday.”
Husso suffered through an injury-plagued 2018-19 season, slowed by a nagging ankle injury. But Husso says he’s fine physically and there have been no lingering effects.
“Everything is perfect,” he said. “Right now I’m super happy that I’m healthy and I can play hockey right now.”
Zach Sanford and Jake Allen made the trip to Calumet, Mich., for Thursday’s Kraft Hockeyville game against the Detroit Red Wings, but didn’t play in the game. But they did have some duties, taking part in a question-and-answer session with local youth in the afternoon.
“They had us go on the ice with a couple of the Red Wings guys,” Sanford said. “They had eight kids come out and ask us some questions that they came up with and we just answered them.
“There were pretty simple questions. I think (the youth) were anywhere from sixth grade to 12th grade.”
Sanford said no one asked how much money he made during the Q&A. But during the game, he said a youngster in the stands asked if he was rich. There wasn’t enough room in tiny Calumet Colosseum _ capacity 700 _ for Sanford and Allen to sit in a pressbox or suite area. So they sat in the stands during the game.
Defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Carl Gunnarsson, both dealing with what appear to be minor injuries, are not in the lineup against Washington.
Neither player appeared in the Hockeyville game. Bortuzzo didn’t skate Thursday morning with the non-travel group at Centene Community Ice Center back in St. Louis, either. Gunnarsson started the practice at Centenne but left the ice early.
“Gunny’s still nicked up,” Berube said. “Both of them are. And they’re not a hundred percent healthy. . . .I think they’ll both be ready to go by Wednesday.”
Wednesday's the season opener against the Capitals at Enterprise.
(From @samanthajpell of the Washington Post)
Berube said he liked what he saw Thursday from Robert Thomas, who made his preseason debut against the Red Wings and plans to play him in the preseason finale against Columbus.
For Oskar Sundqvist, who missed some time earlier in camp with an upper-body injury, the Detroit game marked his third contest of the preseason. Berube indicated he’d like to play Sundqvist against Columbus at well.