By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- In light of the whirlwind 24 hours for the Blues, the season still must go on and no matter who they have and who they don't have tonight, the Anaheim Ducks are in town and a very crucial two points are on the line.
The Blues (26-21-9), winners of two straight for the first time in the new calendar year, come into the matchup tonight on the heels of an impressive 3-0 win at Buffalo, which was played hours after team captain Eric Brewer was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning and hours after the blockbuster deal that saw Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first-round pick traded away to Colorado in the early hours of Saturday for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional second-round pick.
The Blues trail the Ducks (32-23-4) by seven points for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference in the chase for the playoffs but responded as well as can be against Buffalo in light of the Brewer deal.
"Very pleased with the response," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "(The Brewer trade) happened in mid-afternoon and there's a different element in coming to the rink and preparing for a hockey game when something like that happens. We just simply addressed the fact that there is an element there that we are not going to deny. A friend and teammate and captain is out of the lineup and no longer with us.
"The bottom line is that first five minutes of the hockey game against Buffalo became the most important thing and I thought our guys had real clear direction and commitment to that first five. We're going to have to have that same type of commitment here tonight."
In light of the late-night, early-morning trade with the Avalanche, the Blues recalled center Philip McRae and defenseman Tyson Strachan from Peoria in case Stewart and Shattenkirk ran into travel troubles getting to St. Louis.
Both players were expected to arrive in time and make their Blues debuts tonight.
Payne would not address the lineup status for tonight's 7 p.m. contest, but there were some discussions to the following combinations:
Andy McDonald-David Backes-Chris Stewart
Alex Steen-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie
Brad Winchester-Vladimir Sobotka-Brad Boyes
B.J. Crombeen-Matt D'Agostini-Cam Janssen
That makes center Philip McRae the healthy scratch.
The new defensive alignment would see:
Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo
Nikita Nikitin-Roman Polak
Carlo Colaiacovo-Kevin Shattenkirk
This alignment would make Strachan the healthy scratch.
Payne did say that Colaiacovo, who took a shot to the head in the third period of last night's game, is good to play tonight. Colaiacovo left roughly five minutes into the third period after a hit by Patrick Kaleta and did not return.
Ty Conklin, who blanked the Sabres making 25 stops, will get the nod once again tonight. He is 4-1 with a 2.39 GAA and .905 save percentage against the Ducks but got lit up in Anaheim last month during the Blues' 7-4 loss at Honda Center.
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Anaheim, which was blasted by the Blues here in early October 5-1, played in Minnesota last night and suffered a 5-1 loss.
The Ducks did not skate this morning and are expected to roll out the following lineup:
Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Jason Blake-Saku Koivu-Teemu Selanne
Jarkko Ruutu-Brandon McMillan-Maxim Lapierre
Todd Marchant-Kyle Chipchura-George Parros
The defensive pairings include:
Toni Lydman-Lubomir Visnovsky
Cam Fowler-Andreas Lilja
Francois Beauchemin-Luca Sbisa
Curtis McElhinney, playing for the injured Jonas Hiller (head), is expected to make the start despite allowing five goals on 26 shots Friday.