Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Steen, Stastny Enjoy Being on Same Side; Both Are Happy to Be Blues after Years of Battling; NHL

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Steen, Stastny Enjoy Being on Same Side; Both Are Happy to Be Blues after Years of Battling; NHL

Article excerpt

PALM DESERT, CALIF. * They're friends now, even teammates and linemates, but for the past few seasons, Alexander Steen and ex- Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny have had their share of battles.

"It usually seemed like our lines would get matched up against one another, so we saw quite a lot of each other when played," Steen said. "It's been a little chippy at times, but it's always good."

A little chippy? Always good? Is that how Stastny remembers it?

"He's really tough and really a dirty player," Stastny said. "Not dirty that way, but he'd find a way to get that extra shot in there. You'd have a couple where you're battling for a puck and he throws a quick crosscheck. You always remember that stuff.

"But I think (the perspective) outside of the Blues, he's like a thoroughbred. He's strong on his stick, strong on his edges and just competes. He never lets anything come to him. He wants to go out and get it, whether it's the puck, the forecheck. He's super aggressive and that's what makes him so successful."

Steen, 30, led the Blues with 33 goals and 62 points in 2013-14, establishing career highs in both categories. Playing on a line this year with Stastny, who had 35 assists a year ago for the Avs, the left winger could be in store for an even stronger season statistically.

But while Steen admits that his recent offensive production has fueled him "When you're doing the right things and getting rewarded, you want to keep going," he says it's not what motivates him.

"Whether or not you score 30-something goals, I just always want to continue to feel like I'm getting better," Steen said. "I don't worry about numbers, I don't worry about things that I can't control. I just focus on myself and try to just play as good as I can. I put pressure on myself to be good.

"But whether or not that means that I score or not, we need to win the hockey game. If we can get two or three goals and win the hockey game, then our goal is made. It's all about winning. I just want to win now."

On a roster that features a potential 40-goal scorer in Vladimir Tarasenko, and as many as six 20-goal scorers, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said that whether Steen is among the team's top point producers is not a chief concern.

"Sometimes those guys are in the 20s, sometimes those guys are in the 40s," Hitchcock said. "I look at it, 'Who's going to help us step up when the game is on the line?' That's what I look at. He might score 29 one year, but they're all important.

"He's not afraid of the stage. Like when it's time to jump up and really hold yourself to a high level, he's going to do that stuff. …

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