ST. LOUIS -- The Blues should be used to this. Injuries are part of the game, right?
So when John Davidson and Doug Armstrong went out and picked up reinforcements, particularly on the blue line, it's for these very same reasons. Because the Blues (6-1-2) are already dealing with two injuries to their blue line.
Roman Polak (wrist surgery) and Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion) are on the mend, and the Blues needed to keep the cupboard replenished. That's why when Tyson Strachan plugs a gap as does Nathan Oystrick, with NHL experience himself, the Blues don't seem to miss a beat.
"You're always going to have injuries," said captain Eric Brewer. "It's opportunities for other guys and more minutes. You've just got to deal with it. You're never going to replace what you've got. You make do with what you've got and as a group, with the forwards coming back more and our D just doing a couple extra shifts each, you make it work."
Minutes will increase for all involved, including veterans Brewer and Barret Jackman along with younger players Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo. It's a challenge the players must embrace.
Pietrangelo played a career-best 27 minutes, 56 seconds in the win over Atlanta on Saturday. There's no reason to think his time will diminish.
"It's a challenge you've got to look forward to," Pietrangelo said. "Those two guys (Polak and Colaiacovo) played pretty big minutes and we have to fill that void. It's an opportunity for people, myself included, to step up and certainly take advantage of it. Everybody's going to have to pick their game up to take the place of those two guys."
Armstrong said, "The test is there every night now. Players are going to have to play outside their comfort zone. They're going to be put into different situations, whether it's Erik Johnson or Pietrangelo. Oystrick's got experience, but he's going to be counted on now. It's all hands-on deck right now with these two guys out. Players are in different situations right now and they're going to have to perform."
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Why fix something that's not broken, right? So the Blues will roll out the same lines against the Sharks today at 7 p.m. (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM).
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 will be a healthy scratch.
With Polak and Colaiacovo out, the d-pairings will feature:
Eric Brewer-Erik Johnson
Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo
Nathan Oystrick-Tyson Strachan
Nikita Nikitin (broken wrist) is still on injured reserve but looks very impressive in his rehab.Jaroslav Halak (6-1-1, who is third in the league with a 1.71 goals-against average and sixth with a .932 save percentage) will make his sixth straight start tonight.
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San Jose (5-4-2) comes into town off a 1-0 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday. The Sharks, who won three of four meetings with the Blues last season -- including both here at Scottrade Center -- are 3-2-0 on the road this season.
San Jose features a potent power play, which is tops in the league this season at 28.6 percent.
"They're like the perfect five-man dancing team," Blues coach Davis Payne said of the Sharks' power play. The Blues' penalty killing unit, which is at a 80.6 percent success rate, will certainly have its hands full.
There is a chance coach Todd McClellan may mix up some lines tonight but tentatively, they are scheduled to play the following, including former Blue Jamal Mayers:
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Dany Heatley
Ryane Clowe-Joe Pavelski-Torrey Mitchell
Jamie McGinn-Logan Couture-Devin Setoguchi
Jamal Mayers-Scott Nichol-Frazer McLaren/John McCarthy
There's a chance that McCarthy could be slotted in at right wing for McLaren.
The d-pairings feature:
Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Niclas Wallin
Jason Demers-Kent Huskins
Antti Niemi, who has struggled with a 1-3-0 record, 4.50 GAA and .854 save percentage after bolting the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent, will start in goal for the Sharks tonight. Antero Niittymaki (4-1-1, 1.75 GAA and .930 save percentage), who also signed as a free agent this past summer from Tampa Bay, has outplayed Niemi to this point in the season.