Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Young Blood: Blues Rookies Are Pumped

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Young Blood: Blues Rookies Are Pumped

Article excerpt

Blues youngsters Ian Laperriere, David Roberts, Denis Chasse and Patrice Tardif have played dozens of intense Stanley Cup playoff games.

In their dreams.

"You think about it, but you can't imagine what it's like unless you really play them," Chasse said. "We'll find out Sunday."

Much has been made of the vast Blues experience, their seven Stanley Cup winners and the sterling character the club possesses. But the Blues may also call on some rookies when they open their first-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks at Kiel Center.

"I do have a lot of confidence in them," Blues coach Mike Keenan said. "I'm not afraid of them not being able to respond. It's going to be an eye-opening experience for them. But they are surrounded by a lot of experienced people."

And what can these experienced people tell them?

"You can tell them what other rookies have done," said Keenan, who had four rookies on Stanley Cup finalist teams in Philadelphia in the late '80s. "They aren't the first rookies to go through this."

These first-year Blues not only fill roles, they carry a load. Laperriere, 21, is a tenacious body-checking center who can jam the net and score on the counterattack.

Roberts, who turns 25 later this month, provides much-needed playmaking ability at center or left wing - and down low on the struggling Blues power play.

Big wingers Chasse, 25, and Tardif, 24, muck along the boards and crash the net. They could provide a useful physical presence if the series gets rugged. And defensemen Terry Hollinger and Jeff Batters, both 24, are standing by in case of an emergency.

"I have to go day by day," Laperriere said. "It's our first NHL playoff. I can't imagine it. We all have to go day by day."

Laperriere was a Blues tempo-setter much of the season, scoring 13 goals, filling a void at center, and aggravating every opponent by finishing his checks. He plugs high energy into the lineup and puts an edge on the team's play.

"Me, Chasse, Tardif, that's our job to do that," he said. …

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