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Sunday, January 20, 2013

St. Louis Blues: 5 things we learned about the Blues in the season opener

The St. Louis Blues opened the NHL hockey season with a bang on Saturday night, shutting out the Detroit Red Wings 6-0 in a dominating performance. 

While it is just one game, and Blues' fans should be cautious and do their best to contain their optimism, there are plenty of things to analyze and think about as the Blues get ready to face the Nashville Predators on Monday evening.

Here are five things we learned about the Blues in their season opener against Detroit.

1. The Blues still are a defensive oriented team. The Blues set the tone early in this one in the defensive end, allowing just two Red Wings shots in the first period.

Ken Hitchcock is know for running a great defensive system and the Blues executed it perfectly last season and posted 15 shutouts. Even with an abbreviated training camp, the Blues' defense already looked to be in mid-season form.

2. The Blues' forecheck is absolutely relentless. A good forecheck always helps the defense and the Blues were buzzing all over the ice on Saturday night, mainly in the Detroit end.

Every one of the Blues' four lines pestered the hopeless Detroit defense and helped to create scoring opportunities. Look for this year's Blues squad to intensely forecheck all season.

3. Blues rookie Vladimir Tarasenko is disgustingly talented. This is blatantly obvious to anybody who watched the game. The Russian rookie could not have had a better debut in front of the Blues' fans at Scottrade Center.

Tarasenko showed on Saturday night that he can live up to his reputation as an explosive scorer and his second goal of the night was simply brilliant. 

4. Defenseman Ian Cole is a drastic upgrade over last year. Cole is in this year and ironically enough, current Detroit Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, is out and the Blues are better for it.

Cole is playing with top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, so he will see plenty of minutes that promise to be up-and-down. Such was the case on Saturday night. Cole made three errant passes in a matter of 45 seconds. But then, on the same shift, made an incredible pass up the boards that found Tarasenko for his first goal.

Cole is incredibly talented and could turn out to be the partner for Pietrangelo.

5. David Perron needs to stay out of the penalty box. Perron was called for three penalties on the night, which is not good considering he is the playmaker the Blues need on their top line to draw penalties, not take them.

Perron looked rusty on Saturday night, which can be expected since he did not play overseas during the lockout. He will turn it around in due time though, and be among the Blues' leaders in the goal scoring section of the tally sheet, and not the penalty minutes part, by the end of the year.

Corey Rudd is the owner and founder of StlSportsMinute.com and hosts The Cruddy Show (@CruddyShow), a St. Louis sports talk show, every Tuesday and Friday night at 9:30 pm CT.  You can also follow Rudd on Twitter (@CoreyRudd).