Ott excited to join the Blues; Bishop among top goalies in the NHL

News-DemocratMarch 3, 2014 

— Already familiar with Doug Armstrong and Ken Hitchcock from his days with the Dallas Stars, new St. Louis Blues forward Steve Ott couldn't wait to begin bonding with his teammates.

Maybe it was being traded by the last-place Buffalo Sabres to the first-place Blues, or being accompanied in the trade by good friend and Sabres veteran goalie Ryan Miller.

"It was a little overwhelming, but I was just so excited about how strong this team is," said Ott, who made his debut Sunday in the Blues' 4-2 victory at Phoenix. "I have some pretty strong connections with the general manager and obviously the coach as well. Also coming along with Ryan Miller, a world-class goalie, that really made things just over the top."

Both players will make their St. Louis debuts Tuesday night against Tampa Bay.

After being told he was headed to the Blues, Ott couldn't have been happier.

"In the last month or so I kind of knew something was going to go down," he said. "I was just hoping for a contender and if you could have asked me my first choice, I would have picked St. Louis in a heartbeat. It was almost like a dream came true.

"I woke up and now I'm a Blue."

Ott is the kind of player teammates love and opponents love to hate, especially in the playoffs. He is tough, physical and will do just about anything in pursuit of a win, although that propensity to play on the edge has led to a few suspensions in the past.

One suspension was for a 2008 hit to the head of Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold when Leopold was playing with Colorado.

In 674 career games --including nine seasons with the Dallas Stars -- he has 103 goals, 264 points and 1,318 penalty minutes. Ott annually ranks among the NHL leaders in hits and is currently fifth with 197 this season, two more than Blues captain David Backes.

"There's so much to play for," Ott said. "We want to get on a roll here as fast as we possibly can and fit in. I'm excited, I really am. I'm bringing my parents down (Tuesday) and my wife's going to fly in for the game as well.

"This is what it's all about, we're trying to build something for the playoffs and beyond."

Ott was the third Sabres captain traded this season. He knew it was only a matter of time with coaching changes, a front-office shakeup and a rebuilding effort.

"It was tough," he said. "They were expecting big things with the new ownership, but then they kind of changed directions and wanted to rebuild the franchise. When you're in a rebuilding situation, your older pieces are going to get moved for assets... and that's pretty much what's been going on.

"They've been collecting draft picks and other young guys to rebuild."

Bishop finds a home

Former Blues goaltending prospect and native St. Louisan Ben Bishop has blossomed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and at age 27 has taken the Eastern Conference by storm.

The 6-foot-7 netminder is 29-10-4 with a 2.05 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and four shutouts. The wins, shutouts and save percentage each rank third in the NHL.

Bishop, the Blues' third-round pick in 2005, returns to St. Louis on Tuesday to face his old team.

He played in 13 games with the Blues in 2008-09 and 2010-11 before being traded to the Ottawa Senators in February, 2012. At the time, the Blues had one of the league's best goaltending tandems in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, who would go on to win the Jennings Trophy for best goals-against average.

Bishop has allowed more than two goals only 11 times in 47 games this season.

Ending some streaks

The Blues ended several pesky droughts during their 4-2 win Sunday in Phoenix that saw them score all four goals in the third period.

After being shut out the previous two games, the Blues finally ended a franchise-record scoring drought of 164 minutes, 26 seconds by scoring four goals in 15 minutes, 3 seconds.

Blues center Patrik Berglund had gone 16 games without a goal before scoring two of them in the third period.

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk's power-play goal ended the club's 0-for-28 drought with the man advantage and also was his first goal in 10 games.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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