Preview: Blues vs. Calgary – Welcome Lars Eller

Preview: Blues vs. Calgary
Welcome Lars Eller

eller_larsThe moment many Blues fans have been waiting for is finally here: Lars Eller is about to make his NHL debut. With injuries being a common theme of late, Eller has been summoned from Peoria to add some additional offense to a team that has been shutout in consecutive games. What can we expect from Eller tonight?

Andy McDonald lost an edge and crashed into the boards Saturday night, leaving the Blues once again short on players. It wasn’t clear until last night who would be called up from Peoria, but news later broke it would be the youngster Lars Eller. Eller is widely considered the most talented forward prospect the Blues have in their ranks, and his debut has been widely anticipated for some time now.

Through 11 games in Peoria, Eller notched three goals and eight assists while skating on the first line. He was one of the best performers in the team’s prospect camp back in July, and was thought to have been battling for a spot on the NHL roster before he came down with a case of mono which sidelined him through most of camp.

The big question that won’t be answered until tonight is which line should Eller play on? He is a speedy skater but also gets involved in the physical aspects of the game, particularly when battling for the puck in the corners. He is a sniper on the ice, with a wrist shot that has “eyes” for the back of the net. Drafted 13th overall in 2007, Eller has a bright future ahead of him, but injury woes and some bad luck have delayed his debut until tonight.

Eller’s time at the NHL roster might be brief, as he is likely just filling in until McDonald and others recover from their injuries. Still, it is always exciting to see a highly ranked prospect make his NHL debut, and here is to hoping Eller can make an impact straight away.

The Blues enter tonight needing to form an identity for this team. The early going has been mostly disappointing,which you can read about from my last post “What is Wrong?”, but there have been some positives that the team will need to build upon tonight. The goaltending has been mostly solid and the youngsters on the blueline (Erik Johnson and Pietrangelo) have played very well so far. However, the Blues need to take their game as a team up several notches and get back to the high tempo, high intensity play they wowed fans with at the end of last season.

Tonight should be a good test for the team as Calgary invades the Scottrade Center. The Flames boast a wealth of talent across the ice, from Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen at forward, to Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester at the defense and Miikka Kiprusoff between the pipes. If the Blues come out as they did in their last contest against Florida, Calgary will simply wash them away with their waves of talent. The Blues need to come out energetic, actually use their home ice as an advantage, and get to Kiprusoff early and often.

It is a tough stretch of games starting against Calgary tonight, and the next several matchups should be a good indicator of just what we should expect from the Blues this season.