Coach Ken Hitchcock kept preaching patience when it came to evaluating individual players and the St. Louis Blues as a team coming out of a lockout.
Hitchcock factored in the long layoff, compressed schedule and the fact many games will be the second of back-to-backs, three in four days or four in six.
Exhibit A was much of the Blues' first period Tuesday in a 3-2 road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blues' defense and goaltending were under fire soon after a noisy United Center crowd welcomed the Blackhawks back during their home opener.
A lack of smooth entries into the offensive zone by the Blues didn't help, either.
Chicago had numerous odd-man rushes, including a rare 3-on-0 rush that led to the first goal by Patrick Kane as goaltender Brian Elliott was left to fend for himself.
"It's not going to be silky smooth until you get a lot more games under your belt," Hitchcock said. "Defense is the toughest thing, it's quickness in the mind, quickness to react and quickness to read things. It's always the last thing to come around.
"We're going to be a while on that -- just like a lot of other teams."
It may not happen quickly, either, despite the immediate nature of a 48-game schedule.
"It's going to be a while, probably six weeks total, before everybody gets up to speed," Hitchcock predicted.
While the Blues looked invincible during a 6-0 season-opening victory over Detroit and followed that up with a 3-2 shootout win on the road against Nashville, there were some difficult moments against the Blackhawks.
After falling behind 3-0, the Blues showed some degree of resolve by fighting back to within one in the third period on goals by Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie.
Even as the final horn sounded they were scratching and clawing for the tying goal.
"We mounted a big comeback," Hitchcock said, "but cleaning up those areas without practicing ... it's going to take a lot of trial and error before we could get it right."
The Blues dropped to 1-4-6 in their last 11 trips to Chicago. Their last win at United Center was Feb. 3, 2010.
The Blues on Wednesday activated veteran defenseman Wade Redden, creating roster space by placing defenseman Jeff Woywitka on waivers and assigning defenseman Ian Cole to minor-league Peoria.
The Cole assignment is a procedural move, but he will be back with the team tomorrow whether or not Woywitka clears waivers.
It's similar to the roster move last week when the Blues assigned rookie forward Jaden Schwartz to the minors, then played him in the season opener the following day.
Will Redden be in the Blues' lineup against Nashville on Thursday for his first NHL game in more than two seasons?
"We're going to make an evaluation after the skate tomorrow on what he looks like, but so far so good," Hitchcock said. "He doesn't need to carry the load or quarterback the power play. He's just got to fit in."
Redden, who will wear No. 6 after Woywitka had to change to a different number, could be in the Blues' lineup as early as Thursday night for their home game against Nashville.
The Blues signed Redden to a one-year, $800,000 pro-rated contract last week after his contract was bought out by the New York Rangers.
Redden spent the last two years playing in the minors for the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate in Connecticut.
Hitchcock didn't find any major issues with Cole's early-season performance.
"Without the puck he's been fine," Hitchcock said. "The game and getting up to tempo with the puck is always a work in progress. He's been very competitive, very physical and hard to play against."
Around the rink
Through three games, some positive trends are emerging for the Blues.
They have the NHL's best power play, scoring six times in nine opportunities (66.7 percent), while defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk already has five assists.
Rookie winger Vladimir Tarasenko is off to a flying start with three goals and five points in his first three NHL games.