Thursday, October 28, 2010

(10-28-10) Blues-Predators Gameday Lineup

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When his teammates saw the amount of blood gushing from the right wrist of Roman Polak, Blues players quickly went from teammates to concerned friends.

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was one of them.

"The play looked harmless and you see him get up from the ice, he's looking at his wrist and we're all trying to figure out what's going on and he's skating and there's so much blood coming out," Colaiacovo said. "That's the nature of the game. You can even go back a couple years and look at the Richard Zednik incident. That's the dangers we put ourselves through every time we step on the ice.

"I guess when you look at the end result of it, we're just all really happy he escaped what could have been a serious tragedy, a really serious injury. I guess this is a best-case scenario."

Polak, who took an inadvertent skate from Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby during the second period of Saturday's 1-0 overtime win, went from escaping a serious injury to having surgery today at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to repair a severed tendon.

Initially, the Blues felt like Polak would miss tonight's game against Nashville, then be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. But with the severity of the injury, Polak will be out indefinitely, with the team having a better understanding in the next 10-14 days following surgery.

"It's a tough break," Colaiacovo said. "No one expected the injury to be that serious, but obviously he's got to take matters into his own hands and worry about his health and making sure he does the right thing for the long run. Obviously we're going to miss him. He brings a lot to our team. Sometimes he's irreplaceable, but I think we've proven in the past -- especially this team and its core defense -- that they can get through anything. We have the guys capable of stepping up to replace what we're going to miss from him."

Tyson Strachan, who has been a healthy scratch in six of the team's seven games, will see the ice in the foreseeable future on a regular basis. And the Blues have recalled Nathan Oystrick from Peoria to fill in as the team's seventh defenseman for the time being.

"He's playing a solid team game, working hard at being a contributor to team success," Blues coach Davis Payne said of Oystrick. "That's the message that we sent these guys with when they left. Make sure when the call comes, when the need is there, you put yourself in a position to be at the top of the charts and he's done that, he's produced, he's played well within structure, defended hard. Coming off a long road trip (with Peoria), his road trip gets longer, which I think he's ok with. Obviously he's a guy that we liked during training camp, has some experience in this league. Obviously that plays a little into it."

Oystrick, 28, was signed by the Blues as a free agent after spending past season in the Anaheim Ducks organization, playing in three games. He played a full season in 2008-09 with the Atlanta Thrashers, scoring four goals and eight assists.

"I know how it works and I know the day-to-day routine," Oystrick said. "Obviously, I'm a little bit older and not only NHL games, I've been around pro hockey a little bit more. There's a lot of good defensemen down there that they could have chose from. I'm just happy that it was me."

Oystrick got off to a hot start in Peoria, scoring four goals and collecting nine points in nine games with the Rivermen.

"Luckily, I got the call and I'll be ready," Oystrick said. "If I'm here for one game or I'm here for two months, I'll be ready every day, come to practice and to the rink ready and hopefully get a chance to get into a couple games and prove myself.

"Obviously, we got off to a pretty hot start as a team. When the team's playing as well as we were, it's pretty easy to contribute. I obviously get a lot of power play time there, a lot of ice time. I just got a few lucky bounces, found some holes in the net and guys were around the net banging in shots that I put there."

Blues brass has talked in the past about the importance of depth at all positions, which is why they were able to stockpile players for their team in Peoria. Now, the defensive unit will have the opportunity to see that depth come to fruition.

"We don't necessarily like to show all these examples, but it happens," Payne said. "Everybody deals with this kind of stuff. Poli's out and we've got to pick all the pieces back up and keep on moving. That's just how this business works.

"Obviously (Polak's) got some special abilities. He's a good, strong, physical defender and very difficult to play against. But we have a way and a standard about us. If we have to define ourselves a little bit differently as time goes on, we will structurally. But right now, everything's status quo. Guys step in and perform the same tasks."

Added Colaiacovo, "In any sport, it's almost impossible to go through a whole season without experiencing some sort of adversity, a loss to a player that means so much to your team. Depth is important to your team. It's really important to have that sort of depth at any position in case something like this does happen, you're not scrambling and panicking to fill a position."

- - -

The Blues (4-1-2) will try to get on the winning side of things against Nashville, which has won six of the last seven meetings. The Blues are 9-19-9 in the last 37 meetings between the teams.

But coming off back-to-back wins over Chicago and Pittsburgh at home, there will be no lineup changes for the Blues among the forwards:

David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Andy McDonald-Patrik Berglund-Brad Boyes

Alex Steen-Jay McClement-Matt D'Agostini

Brad Winchester-Vladimir Sobotka-B.J. Crombeen

Cam Janssen is a healthy scratch tonight after being activated Wednesday after suffering a concussion on opening night.

The defensive pairings will have:

Eric Brewer-Erik Johnson

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Carlo Colaiacovo-Tyson Strachan

Nathan Oystrick will be the healthy scratch.

Jaroslav Halak, named the second star of the week by the NHL, will try to gain a measure of revenge, along with his teammates, against the only team he's lost to in regulation. He'll get the start.

- - -

The Predators (5-0-3) are the only team in the league without a regulation loss, but they have dropped their last three home games since that 4-3 win over the Blues on Oct. 14. All three losses, to Calgary, Washington and Pittsburgh, came in overtime.

Their line combinations will feature:

Steve Sullivan-Cal O'Reilly-Patric Hornqvist

J.P. Dumont-Colin Wilson-Martin Erat

Joel Ward-David Legwand-Jordin Tootoo

Sergei Kostitsyn-Nick Spalding-Jerred Smithson

Matthew Lombardi
and Marcel Goc are out with injuries

The defensive unit features:

Francis Bouillon-Shea Weber

Shane O'Brien-Kevin Klein

Alexander Sulzer-Cody Franson

The Predators will be without all-star Ryan Suter (knee), who was injured in the 1-0 overtime loss to Calgary.

Pekka Rinne, who missed the previous meeting between the teams, will get the nod in goal.

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