Legace's legacy

Visiting the Scottrade Center last month to see St. Louis take on the Calgary Flames, the pre-game entertainment featured a man singing the praises of the Blues to the tune of "When The Saints Go Marching In."

"Oh, when the Cup ... comes to St. Loo .... oh, when the Cup comes to St. Loo!"

If they get back into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, the Blues will be able point to several reasons why: the additions of Paul Kariya and Andy McDonald to join Keith Tkachuk up front, the emergence of Brad Boyes as a true offensive threat, and star-in-waiting Erik Johnson anchoring the blue line.

Manny Legace also has a hand in the transformation.

On Monday, he was named the NHL's First Star of the week after going 2-0-0 with no goals allowed in three appearances and both wins came via shutout at the expense of two of Legace's former teams.

He started with a 31-save shutout of the league-leading Detroit Red Wings in a 2-0 win on New Year's Eve. It was in the Motor City where Legace went 37-8-3 in 2005-06, but after a 58-win regular season, the top-seeded Red Wings were upset by the Edmonton Oilers in six games in the first round of the playoffs.

After playing one shutout period in a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton on Wednesday, Legace stopped 27 shots in a 1-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

All told, not a bad week for someone who was an eighth-round draft pick by Hartford in 1993.

"When it's 1-0, guys are still grinding it out," Legace said. "You still feel it. You still feel the intensity in your body."

Playing on a knee that Legace said will probably need surgery at season's end, he's still managed to post a 15-10-2 record with a 2.09 goals-against average -- his lowest since 2000-01, his first full season in the league.

Legace turns 35 on Feb. 4, and is part of a golden age among NHL netminders. Six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek -- Legace's former teammate in Detroit -- turns 43 later this month. Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils will wind down his 15th NHL season in May, when he turns 36, and by then he will have moved closer to Patrick Roy's all-time wins record and Terry Sawchuk's career record for shutouts.

"Goaltending is more experience, learning the game, learning the situations," Legace said. "In the NHL, the travel, it's so tough, you know, you're going from coast-to-coast. Especially when you get down to playoffs, it's every other night.

"You've just got to learn how to control the game in your own best interest. As you get older, you just learn to forget things, let things go in the past. If you had a bad game, just let it go. If you have a good game, you let it go. You look on to the next day. I think just as the goalies, as they get older, they just get more experience. You start to figure out the game a little bit better."

The Blues got off to dismal start in 2006-07 under Mike Kitchen, firing him little more than two months in the season and replacing him with Andy Murray and finishing with a respectable 34-35-13 record. Still, St. Louis missed the postseason for the second straight year after 25 consecutive playoff appearances.

The structure Murray created has carried over into this season.

"It was an instant turnaround. The structure got put into play. You know, just the accountability got taken to another level. He and his whole staff have just been doing a phenomenal job preparing us for every game. That's been the big turnaround," Legace said. "The end of last year, I thought we were one of the better teams in the league. We just unfortunately dug ourselves such big hole at the beginning of the year, we couldn't climb out of. We made a strong run to get back into it.

"But it's just carried over to this year. The work ethic has been there."

That work ethic could result in the Blues finally bringing the Stanley Cup to Missouri.


1. Mathieu Garon, Edmonton Oilers: Garon stopped 35 shots for his third shutout of the season in the Oilers' 4-0 win over the New York Islanders. It was Edmonton's first regulation win in 17 games dating back to Dec. 2.

2. Antti Miettinen and Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars: Miettinen scored two goals to lead Dallas to a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Ribeiro notched two assists hours after signing a five-year, $25 million contract.

3. Chris Kunitz, Anaheim Ducks: Kunitz had a goal and asisst as the Ducks scored four times in an 8:07 span of the second period en route to a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators.

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