Thursday, November 11, 2010

(11-11-10) Predators-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues know this much -- or this is how much they're saying right now: T.J. Oshie in fact does have a fractured left ankle and will be out indefinitely.

Oshie was injured during the third period of Wednesday night's 8-1 loss at Columbus when Oshie was involved in a scrum in the Blues' zone. Oshie got tangled up with the Blue Jackets' Sammy Pahlsson, pulling the Columbus forward down and getting Oshie's leg caught underneath him.

He was taken off the ice with the help of trainer Ray Barile and teammate Alex Pietrangelo, and it was determined after the game the severity of the injury.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will speak with the media at 6 p.m. prior to tonight's Blues game against the Nashville Predators.

"Obviously right now, we know the ankle's broken," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We're waiting for the full assessment to take place on all of that.

"Obviously, it's a tough one. Osh was playing good hockey for us. He's a big part of the hockey club, just like with Roman (Polak), Jax (Barret Jackman), Carlo (Colaiacovo) and Winny (Brad Winchester) now. Someone's got to step in here and the machine's got to keep rolling. That's our approach. We've got to have guys come in and play their part."

Oshie joins Polak (wrist), Jackman (knee), Colaiacovo (concussion), Winchester (knee) and David Perron (concussion) on the list of the walking wounded that just keeps growing by the minute as far as the Blues are concerned.

"You lose a guy like Osh who provides so much energy and everything for the team, it's a tough guy to lose," forward Matt D'Agostini said. "We've got to have guys step up now. Stuff like this happens during the season and you've just got to deal with it."

The Blues have recalled forwards Nick Drazenovic and Chris Porter from AHL Peoria and both will make their season debuts for the Blues tonight. For Drazenovic, it will also be his NHL debut.

"It's a huge opportunity for me and Ports," Drazenovic said Thursday morning. "I'm obviously really excited and a little bit nervous but its just another hockey game. I have to be ready."

Porter, a teammate of Oshie's during their days playing at North Dakota, played in six games for the Blues during the 2008-09 season. He scored a goal and added an assist.

"I'm extremely excited to be here," Porter said. "Obviously it's unfortunate that guys are hurt up here, but that's kind of the game of hockey. I'm going to take my opportunity and run with it.

"You never want to see guys get hurt, especially the way the Blues have gotten off to (the start) here. Losing a guy like Oshie, that's going to be tough, but that's where guys like Draz and myself can hopefully pitch in and get an opportunity to show them what we have."

Payne has coached both in Peoria and the familiarity definitely helps. Drazenovic tallied six goals and nine points in 13 games with Peoria. Porter added four goals and nine points in 14 games.

"I have seen these guys," Payne said. "I know what situations they're most effective in and they also have a clear understanding of what clear communication they're going to get from me, what the expectations are from me and how we're going to approach it. There's a relationship already built in there that we can rely upon and also a knowledge based on what these guys are capable of doing.

"Ports has seen some action. He'll see some time with the (Jay) McClement and (B.J.) Crombeen group. That's a very responsible, defensive checking line. Draz is going to see some time in the middle, he's going to see some time on the wing. His offensive game has been coming. Hopefully, he can give us a little bit of a spark in that department."

- - -

Some good news on the injury front was that Colaiacovo, out since suffering a concussion Oct. 28 against these very same Predators, skated this morning for the first time but will not play tonight. He is also likely out Saturday and said that Monday in Colorado is the most likely target for his return.

"I felt great," Colaiacovo said. "Obviously the legs weren’t quite there yet and the lungs were a little behind but just a great feeling going through a tough time like this where I'm at home and not able to do much and seeing how well the team has been playing up until last night. ... It motivates me even more to get back as quick as I can, especially with what this team is going through with a lot of guys being out of the lineup. I just want to do whatever it takes at all costs to get myself back obviously 100 percent but as soon as possible."

Colaiacovo said he's been symptom-free since Saturday and passed all the protocol concussion testing required to get back into the lineup.

"Its just such a long process," Colaiacovo said. "The best case scenario would be Saturday for me but skating for the first time today, that seems a little doubtful. I think I need a couple more skates to get back into it but I think Monday looks more realistic for me, considering if everything goes as well as its gone."

Added Payne, "(He's) getting close. Passed baseline, got some work in yesterday, got a skate in today. Each day will be an evaluation on how that step has gone, making sure that progression is being made, making sure he stays symptom-free and keeps continuing to get into shape and build towards game-shape."

- - -

The Blues are finally calling the Perron injury a concussion, after according to Payne.

Perron, who took a hard shoulder check to the head from San Jose's Joe Thornton a week ago today, is still experiencing symptoms related to a concussion and his return to the lineup is still yet to be determined.

"It's a concussion and he's still dealing with the symptoms," Payne said of Perron. "We've got to follow that protocol and when he gets to a point where he's symptom-free, we can move onto the next step."

- - -

The Blues are glad to get back on the ice 24 hours after Wednesday night's debacle in Columbus.

After allowing only 18 goals through 12 games, the Blues (9-2-2) gave up eight on 35 shots against the Blue Jackets, playing by far their worst game of the year.

"We made quite a few mistakes in our game last night," Payne said. "We made a lot of mistakes in the way we didn't play our game. We tried to reinvent a way to have success. Obviously, we found out it can get off-track and stay off-track if we don't have guys pulling in the right direction. We created a lot of our own problems. Columbus played very well. The score certainly indicated that."

Added D'Agostini, "Nothing was really going our way. The longer it went on, the worse we got as far as structure and stuff like that. It just kind of snow-balled. Those losses happen, but it's good that we play tonight so we can put it out of our minds."

- - -

With the Blues' list of injuries, the line combinations are tentatively scheduled to look like this (of course, since the Blues' skate was optional, this is just guess-timating; but Payne did confirm Porter to play on the McClement line); McDonald is the likely option to slide inside on the top line:

Alex Steen-Andy McDonald-David Backes

Matt D'Agostini-Patrik Berglund-Brad Boyes

Chris Porter-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Nick Drazenovic-Vladimir Sobotka-Cam Janssen

(or the lines can consist of these):

Andy McDonald-David Backes-Matt D'Agostini

Alex Steen-Patrik Berglund-Brad Boyes

Chris Porter-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Nick Drazenovic-Vladimir Sobotka-Cam Janssen

Brad Winchester (knee contusion) was briefly on the ice this morning but left and will not play tonight.

The Blues are going back to the more conventional 12 forwards and six defensemen for tonight's game, so that means a defenseman will be scratched tonight. Payne said that decision has not been made yet, but since Ian Cole was the last one off the ice, it's likely he will sit tonight:

Eric Brewer-Erik Johnson

Nikita Nikitin-Alex Pietrangelo

Nathan Oystrick-Tyson Strachan

And after allowing four goals on 15 shots Wednesday, Jaroslav Halak is back in goal. He's 8-2-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

"Jaro knows he made some key saves, but there's also some ones ... especially that second goal is uncharacteristic," Payne said. "We reset ourselves and back in he goes."

- - -

The Predators (5-5-3) will have no sympathy for the wounded Blues. Nashville comes into town riding a five-game losing streak that should add some flavor tonight with Jordin Tootoo, who will likely draw some extra special attention for the hit he put on Colaiacovo.

"I know I have 20 guys who will back me up, and it's part of the game," Tootoo told The Nashville Tennessean. "It was a clean hit. It's done with, not much more to say."

The Predators have their share of injuries as well, with forwards Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and Martin Erat (upper-body) as well as defenseman Ryan Suter (knee) all out.

These are the expected line combinations:

Steve Sullivan-Cal O'Reilly-Patric Hornqvist

David Legwand-Jerred Smithson-Jordin Tootoo

Colin Wilson-Marcel Goc-Joel Ward

J.P. Dumont-Nick Spaling-Sergei Kostitsyn

The defensive pairings should feature:

Francis Bouillon-Shea Weber

Shane O'Brien-Kevin Klein

Cody Franson-Alexander Sulzer

Pekka Rinne
, who has hit the skids after a solid start, will be in goal for Nashville. He sports a 2-4-2 record, a 3.01 GAA and .910 save percentage.

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