Flyers vs. Blues
St. Louis, MO - After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the St. Louis Blues are looking forward to starting fresh with their big offseason acquisition.
Jaroslav Halak is expected to open in goal as he makes his Blues debut against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.
Oddsmakers from online sports book BroburySports.com have made the Blues –125 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Flyers. Current MLB Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 627 bets for this game have been placed on the Blues -125.
Halak was acquired from Montreal after his surprising Eastern Conference playoff run, which saw him lead the eighth-seeded Canadiens to series wins over No. 1 seed Washington and No. 4 seed Pittsburgh before falling to Philadelphia in the conference finals.
"It's going to be a new challenge. It's kind of funny, because I got traded here and the home opening game is against Philadelphia," he told the Blues' official website. "It's going to be a big challenge and I think everybody's looking forward to it."
Halak finished 26-13-5 with a 2.40 goals-against average in the regular season in 2009-10, but the Flyers won in five games in the East finals as Halak posted a 2.91 GAA.
The Blues are counting on Halak to lead them to the playoffs after finishing ninth in the Western Conference last season.
Philadelphia opened its season with a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, as rookie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 31 shots to become the youngest Flyer to win his NHL debut since Antero Niittymaki on Feb. 4, 2004.
"It wasn't anything too out of the ordinary. I wasn't nervous, I was ready for this," he told the Flyers' official website. "I don't necessarily think it was just me. It was a team game and I thought the team played very well. At times I had to make saves and at times other guys had to make plays, but it was a whole team effort."
Bobrovsky will likely see more time with Michael Leighton expected to miss six to eight weeks following back surgery.
Danny Briere and Blair Betts provided second-period goals for Philadelphia on Thursday, and Claude Giroux's short-handed score in the third proved to be the winner.
"(The Flyers) are a big team and each guy is big," Halak said. "They try to crash the net and create some rebounds and score off them. It's been working pretty well for them for a lot of years.
"I think they have some really good forwards, and even on their (defense) they have some pretty skilled guys. You just need to take them as a group, not as individuals. When you have five guys out there, you have to outwork them."
St. Louis is coming off a disappointing season which saw individual scoring drop-offs from many of its forwards. Center Patrik Berglund tallied 26 points after recording 47 in his rookie season and right wing David Backes dropped to 17 goals after scoring 31 in 2008-09.
Backes was named an assistant captain along with Barret Jackman, Alex Steen and Erik Johnson.
"We feel everyone in our room now has representation," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "It also gives us great opportunity to cultivate some of that leadership going forward and have strong voices, so our group has not only a great voice, but a great example to follow on a day-to-day basis."
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger was held out Thursday as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. His status against the Blues is unknown.Philadelphia lost 4-0 last season in its first visit to St. Louis since Dec. 17, 2005. The Flyers had won their previous five road games against the Blues.