Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(3-29-11) Wild-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues sent a loud and clear message to T.J. Oshie: inexcusable actions will be met with proper punishment.

Oshie missed Monday's practice with the Blues saying it was "an unexcused absence." General manager Doug Armstrong announced Tuesday morning that Oshie will miss two games, tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild and tomorrow night's road game in Detroit. Armstrong and coach Davis Payne will then reevaluate things moving forward from there.

"We've decided that he'll miss the next two games and we'll reevaluate everything on Thursday when we get back from the road trip," Armstrong said succinctly. "... Right now for myself, for Davis and more importantly for the players, they have to focus on the four points at hand here in the next 24 hours and that's going to be the focus moving forward."

Armstrong nor Payne would not get into any specifics as to why Oshie missed, but it's quite obvious he violated a team rule and will meet the appropriate punishment.

"I'm not going to get into any of the details on what's gone on, what's been said, what's the storyline behind it, what were the conversations like," Payne said. "The bottom line is he's out these two games and it's based on him missing practice yesterday.

"We consider it (serious). I know Osh does as well. That's the message. We dealt with this situation last year with Patrik Berglund. These are not the type of actions that are required as a member of the St. Louis Blues, a member of this organization. Those are the consequences starting today and we'll move forward and look at it again on Thursday."

Oshie was not present at Scottrade Center Tuesday morning nor will he be allowed to participate in any team-related functions for at least the next two days. Armstrong specifically said that Oshie is not suspended nor will he be fined by the team.

"There's a responsibility for the players. He didn't meet that responsibility," Armstrong said of Oshie. "He'll pay the consequences as we move forward. ... He's a professional athlete. They have a job to do and you have to be prepared to do that job. He had an unexcused absence from practice and the consequences are he won't get to do what he loves to do, which is play hockey."

Oshie, 24, has had issues previously. As a junior at North Dakota in 2008, he was suspended one game after an arrest for disorderly conduct, reportedly stemming from public urination in a stuck elevator at Oshie's apartment building. Oshie was on probation at the time after he and then-teammate and current Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews were arrested in 2007 for being underage in a bar.

"There's consequences to his actions," Payne said of Oshie. "We'll start with these two days, these two games. He won't be with the team, he won't play. Doug and I will assess that going forward starting Thursday."

Oshie, who has 10 goals and 30 points in 44 games, is in the final year of an entry-level contract that pays him an $850,000 base salary and another $400,000 in bonuses. He will be a restricted free agent this off-season.

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To take the place of Oshie in the lineup, the Blues have recalled Adam Cracknell from Peoria under emergency conditions.

Cracknell has three goals and three assists in 22 games

He has scored in two straight games but was optioned back to Peoria Sunday. He had been initially on emergency recall when Vladimir Sobotka (foot) was injured on Feb. 27.

"Opportunity and timing has been perfect this year," Cracknell said. "I was in the Calgary organization playing in the East Coast (Hockey League) for two years and got a shot in the (American Hockey League). Sometimes change is good.

"The Blues took a shot on me last year and I just wanted to show that I can play here. It's been a dream-come-true and I'm living every kid's dream right now. It's a great feeling for myself and the people back home, too."

The Blues signed Cracknell, a Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native, as a free agent in 2009 after tallying 29 goals and 59 points in 61 games for Las Vegas of the ECHL.

"Another situation arises. Opportunity knocks," Payne said of Cracknell. "With the way he's been playing, you expect nothing more from him than to answer that door.

"He understands what it takes to have success at this level. It's his game, it's the work that goes into it. He plays a very intelligent game. I think he's gotten a clear understanding that he can have an affect on the game positively for us. He's playing like that."

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The Blues (34-32-9) will look to make it two in a row against the Wild (35-32-8) today at 7 p.m. (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) after doubling up Minnesota 6-3 Saturday in St. Paul.

The Blues will welcome Sobotka back to the lineup tonight after missing 12 games. Also, defenseman Barret Jackman (broken index finger) and winger Alex Steen (high ankle sprain) were on the ice skating but are not ready to return to action.

Tonight's lineup:

Andy McDonald-David Backes-Matt D'Agostini

Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Chris Porter-Adam Cracknell-B.J. Crombeen

Ryan Reaves-Philip McRae-Cam Janssen

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo

Ian Cole-Kevin Shattenkirk

Nikita Nikitin-Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak, 0-1-1 with a 4.52 goals-against average and .851 save percentage in two career starts against the Wild, returns in goal tonight after Ty Conklin stopped 13 of 16 shots Saturday.

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The Wild is 0-7-1 in its last eight games and it's fallen out of the playoff race in the process. Minnesota was outshot 47-16 at home against the Blues and were uncharacteristically booed off the ice during and after the game.

Minnesota's expected lineup:

Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Antti Miettinen

Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Martin Havlat

Matt Cullen-John Madden-Cal Clutterbuck

Casey Wellman-Eric Nystrom-Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz-Brent Burns

Greg Zanon-Marek Zidlicky

Jared Spurgeon-Clayton Stoner

Jose Theodore, 2-5-1 in eight career games against the Blues with a 4.13 GAA and .853 save percentage, gets the nod for the Wild.

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