Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lafayette's Point Pace Picking Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lafayette's Point Pace Picking Up

Article excerpt

It took the Blues' Nathan LaFayette 11 games to produce his first point in the National Hockey League. His second point came more quickly.

Thursday night, he got his first NHL point by separating an Edmonton Oiler from the puck in the neutral zone to set up a two-on-one break for Craig Janney and Brendan Shanahan, who scored his 28th goal.

In the Blues' next game - Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres - LaFayette stole the puck in the neutral zone with another hit. That set up a three-on-two rush for him, Janney and Shanahan, who scored his 29th goal.

Saturday, LaFayette crashed the net and ran interference as Janney skated down the right wing. Thursday, Janney was on left wing.

"Same play, other side . . . shows my versatility," LaFayette said, with a laugh.

LaFayette has performed steadily in the six games since his emergency recall Jan. 4. The Blues called up the rookie winger after tough guys Basil McRae and Kelly Chase went down with injuries.

This is LaFayette's second stint with the Blues this season. He played six games between Dec. 2 and Dec. 13, when the Blues sent him to Peoria to work on his offense.

LaFayette scored seven goals in five games for Peoria and had 13 goals and 11 assists in 26 games for the Blues' International Hockey League farm team.

"They wanted me to work on finishing around the net and finding open ice," he said. "I was getting caught too much in traffic, and the defense was able to tie me up."

In the last two games, LaFayette has created open ice, earning points statistically and figuratively from the Blues' coaching staff.

"For a kid who's new to the league, his play away from the puck is very good," assistant coach Ted Sator said. "He's a very coachable kid. He recognizes the situation when you tell him. You don't have to tell him more than once.

"He's done a marvelous job of assimilating."

LaFayette, in his first professional season, will turn 21 on Feb. 17. The Blues had planned to keep him in Peoria this season, but injuries forced them to call him up.

He has benefited from the opportunity. "I feel more confidence every game," he said.

Playing on a line with Janney and Shanahan helps. …

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