Blues hope to get boost from Chris Pronger jersey retirement against Predators
The St. Louis Blues will be retiring Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger’s No. 44 to the Enterprise Center rafters tonight.
The Blues had planned to honor Pronger last season, but the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You look at the names that are up there, the Blues greats — from Bobby (Plager and Gassoff) to Bernie (Federko) to Brian Sutter to (Brett Hull) to Al (MacInnis) — you look at the names up there and they are synonymous with the St. Louis Blues. To be up there is very special,” Pronger told the team website.
Blues to retire Chris Pronger’s jersey
Pronger, 46, played nine of his 18 NHL seasons with the Blues, registering 356 points (84 goals, 272 assists) and 931 penalty minutes in 598 games from 1995-2004. He swept the Hart Trophy and Norris Trophy in 1999-2000.
His career totals included 698 points (157 goals, 541 assists) and 1,590 penalty minutes in 1,167 games with the Hartford Whalers (1993-95), Blues, Edmonton Oilers (2005-06), Anaheim Ducks (2006-09) and Philadelphia Flyers (2009-11).
He won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
“It’s an honor. I think it speaks to my tenure here in St. Louis and I guess what I meant to the organization, the fans, the city. It’s humbling to be up there in the history of the franchise and have your number recognized and your name, etc. It will be in the history books of the St. Louis Blues forever, so it’s pretty special. You’ve got 2, 3, 5, 8, 11, 16, 24 and now 44. It’s neat that I get to bookend it with Al (MacInnis).”Chris Pronger, NHL.com
Blues looking for a lift
The St. Louis Blues could move closer to full strength when they host the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
The Blues were missing forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, Pavel Buchnevich, David Perron and Brayden Schenn along with cornerstone defenseman Colton Parayko when they fell 6-5 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
That loss snapped their 13-game point streak (12-0-1) at Enterprise Center. The Blues are 15-4-2 at home this season.
Tarasenko, Schenn and Parayko have resumed skating and each could return to face the Predators. Perron could play if he tests out of the protocol.
“You look at who we’re missing, we’re a significantly different team with the guys that aren’t here,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “But we still have a lot of good players and … I think throughout the course of the year we’ve done a great job at that. When guys go down, guys have been stepping up and doing that. It’s just tonight. I think we are all a little disappointed ourselves. We have to play harder and be tougher against.”
The Blues got defenseman Scott Perunovich back against the Maple Leafs, but forward Logan Brown remained out with a non-COVID illness. They had to deploy an AHL line of Nathan Walker, Dakota Joshua and Alexei Toropchenko with so many forwards sidelined.
“We’re pretty depleted,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “We made a game of it, but overall, the puck play wasn’t good enough to break pucks out and get the puck up 200 feet getting in the offensive zone more.”
Predators playing good hockey
The Predators are coming off a 4-3 overtime road loss to the Boston Bruins. They have lost two straight games after a five-game winning streak.
“We lost the hockey game but got a huge point,” Predators forward Colton Sissons said. “I think we can build off this game. That shouldn’t be one that hurts our confidence at all.”
Nashville coach John Hynes applauded his team’s effort against the red-hot Bruins, who have won five games in a row.
“I thought we were engaged, and we talked a lot about being a hard team to play against, physically and mentally,” Hynes said. “We felt like we were right there in the game. It was a very intense game, very physical. Not a lot of free ice out there. Both teams battled hard. I was proud of our guys’ effort tonight.”
The Predators are tied for the Central Division lead with Colorado with 51 points, although they have played four more games. The Blues are in third place with 49 points.
Nashville defeated the Blues 4-3 in overtime on Nov. 11 in St. Louis in the only previous game between these teams this season.
“I think we are matching up very strong against the elite of the NHL and I think we are proving that every time we go head-to-head with them,” Sissons said.
Nashville will be short-handed on defense against the Blues. Mattias Ekholm was placed in COVID-19 protocol before the Boston game and Dante Fabbro is questionable after exiting that game with an undisclosed injury.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report