St. Louis Blues left wing Jake Neighbours, left, passes the puck past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DENVER — Jake Neighbours said his parents were a little shocked a week ago when he told them he had made the Blues’ opening-day roster.
They were at Saturday’s season opener against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena for his first NHL game. Their reaction undoubtedly has transcended shock to something like pride, delight, joy.
Neighbours, a first-round pick in the 2020 draft, defied the odds in making what is a largely veteran roster. At age 19, he is one of only 11 teenagers throughout the NHL to make an opening-day roster.
“It makes you think of yourself back when you were that age and how much you were just a sponge,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “For us, us veteran guys here, we want to help him out as much as we can. And make him comfortable and help him grow himself and his game.
“You can just see how excited he is to be around and the energy that he has. It’s nice for us old guys. It gives us a little spark as well.”
Neighbours opened on the Blues’ fourth line Saturday, playing left wing, with Tyler Bozak at center and Ivan Barbashev at right wing.