Hitchcock: Scrimmage was an eye-opener

Hitchcock: Scrimmage was an eye-opener

Credit: UPI

St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong talks with reporters after it was announced he has been signed to a five-year contract extention, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on January 16, 2013. Armstrong, who was named the NHL's 2012 General Manager of the Year, is the 11th General Manager in Blues' history and guided the 2011-12 team to its first Central Division title since 2000 and a franchise record 30-6-5 mark at home. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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by Scott Bierman / HockeyStL

KMOV.com

Posted on January 16, 2013 at 12:47 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 14 at 12:20 PM

(HockeyStL) -- The St. Louis Blues have been back to work for three full days, but Tuesday marked the first scrimmage of training camp and came only four days until the Detroit Red Wings come to town to start the season.

The scrimmage allowed the coaching staff to get a better feel for what the players had coming out of a four-month work stoppage due to the lockout.

The Blues were split into two teams, dubbed Team White and Team Blue, and played two 25-minute periods with a five-man shootout at the end of each period.  The team also had six consecutive two-minute power plays to conclude the scrimmage in front of over 8,000 fans.

“I talked to four coaches today and everybody said the same thing, ‘Oh my god.  They’ll look great in practice and look like speed when there was limited players on the ice.  All of a sudden there’s ten players on the ice and everything changes,’”  Ken Hitchcock said.  “Everybody is in the same boat.  Anybody that scrimmaged yesterday or today got a real eye-opener.”

After the scrimmage ended in a 4-4 tie, Hitchcock said his staff has a better feel for where the team needs to improve and which players need to step up more with three days remaining in the abbreviated training camp.

It was also apparent to which players played during the lockout.

“The first 16 minutes of the first period were as good as any league game you’re going to get into.  I mean it was fast and hard-played with great tempo,” Hitchcock added.  “Then as people got tired you saw mistakes or when people got tired you saw the lack of polish because they haven’t played.

“I think the biggest thing is how do the players feel?  When you scrimmage for the first time it’s like the season is on and I think the players will show up tomorrow with really good focus.”

The Blues will practice at 11:30 a.m. at the Scottrade Center on Wednesday.  It is open to the public and free to get in.

Among the impressive players to come out of the scrimmage were Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz.

Tarasenko had two separate opportunities to score on similar plays created at the defensive blue line, but missed on both shots.  He also missed on two shootout attempts.  The Russian prospect showed great promise after creating two scoring opportunities by breaking past the defensive line for a short breakaway.

Schwartz scored one goal and appeared to bounce another one in off a defender during a power play to go along with an earlier assist on a one-time feed to Chris Stewart.

“I think what we come out of this thing with is right now, unless things change, looks like Tarasenko and Schwartz can more than keep up,” Hitchcock concluded with at the end of his press conference.

Fans will have the opportunity to watch another scrimmage on Thursday night.  It will be free to attend.

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