Saturday, December 10, 2011

(12-10-11) Sharks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- David Perron put to rest his issues with Joe Thornton Friday. Thornton made his peace Saturday. Both players hope to lay to rest last year's hit that concussed Perron to rest.

The Blues (16-9-3) and Sharks (15-9-1) square off for the second time this season at 7 p.m. today at Scottrade Center (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) but it will be the first time Perron will face the Sharks since suffering a concussion from a hit by Thornton near center ice. Perron missed 97 games.

Thornton said he's glad to see Perron back.

"Obviously, you don't want to hurt anybody," Thornton said Saturday morning. "It's unfortunate he's been out for so long, but to see him back playing put a smile on my face. For him to score in his first game back was exciting as well. To have him back, it's nice. I wish him all the health in the world now."

Perron reflected on the incident Friday.

"Coming out of the box, he was probably so frustrated from that previous penalty, he wanted to get his game going, get physical and he saw that I was there," Perron said of Thornton. "To say it's disappointing that he didn't contact me after, it's tough to say. I moved on pretty quickly after that.

"I'm a pretty forgiving person. I forgave him pretty much right away. We all make mistakes in our lives. Sometimes it's bigger than others. I can move on from that and hopefully he can learn something about it."

Thornton said he would say something to Perron at some point tonight.

"Absolutely. Yeah, or even after the game," he said. "We'll have some contact, but that's between me and him."

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The Blues will welcome defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk back to the lineup tonight after missing Thursday's game with a bout of the stomach flu.

Shattenkirk became ill suddenly and did not dress for the 4-2 win over Anaheim. Ian Cole stepped in and contributed his second career two-point game (one goal, one assist).

"Everything is good to go," Shattenkirk said Saturday morning. "I felt pretty much back to 100 percent this morning. I finally was able to keep some food down yesterday. ... I skated yesterday for a little bit just to make sure my stomach was settled. I hadn't really eaten much so I didn't have much energy. This morning I felt like I was back.

"It was definitely great seeing the team do well on Thursday. Obviously Ian filling in and doing a great job. You're just sitting in bed watching and it's a tough way to watch a game, especially not even being at the rink. It was something where I was giving some fist pumps in bed, but for the most part, just lying around."

Shattenkirk will play alongside Kris Russell, with Barret Jackman and Roman Polak getting back together.

"When there's a definitive matchup, we put Polak and Jackman together," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They play well together when there's a good central focus.

"Obviously Russell and Shattenkirk, they've had a good plus-minus. Russ has been really good since he's (been) here. They're a threat. They're a threat to get up the ice, they're a threat in the offensive zone and Shattenkirk's got the weight and size to play against bigger players, too. There seems to be a lot of bigger players on the other team today. We'll get a challenge back there, but I like the way Russell and Shattenkirk's played together."

Cole will become a healthy scratch again despite the solid outing Thursday.

"Based on his last game, Cole doesn't deserve to sit out," Hitchcock said. "But numbers are numbers and he's a young guy that's going to get his chance.

"He's an improving player. He's got a better focus at practice and he's improving on a daily basis. If he continues down this path, he's going to put a lot of pressure on people to stay in the lineup because he was very good the last game. If he can continue upgrading from there and continues to stay consistent, he's going to put a lot of heat on people."

Added Shattenkirk: "Ian's at a point now where he's pretty settled in and comfortable at this level. I think it showed the other night he's not someone who's going to go out there and try to make simple plays. He's going to go out there and try to be effective for the team. I think we all know we can count on him in those situations."

- - -

Hitchcock also is juggling the forward lines a bit, as he's elevating Jamie Langenbrunner to the second line with Patrik Berglund and Perron while dropping Chris Stewart to Vladimir Sobotka's line with Ryan Reaves.

"Hopefully, we can get a better three-line game going," Hitchcock said. "For us, Sobe operates better when he's playing with physicality. We'll get big, physical play there and hopefully give Sobe some room."

As for Langenbrunner, who had two assists Thursday, Hitchcock is impressed with the veteran.

"Langs has played unbelievable the last three games," Hitchcock said. "Gotta reward good play.

"The Berglund line didn't have a great game last game, so we need that line to be better. If we're going to get going ... we talked about secondary scoring, we're getting third scoring because we're getting guys that come in the lineup scoring goals. We need people here all the time to start becoming productive if we're going to get to the next level. We're looking for combinations that can help get that second wave scoring. If Langs can go up there and continue his good play and impact Bergy's line, then that's going to help us."

- - -

The Sharks come in with one of the better road records in the league at 7-3-0, and according to winger Patrick Marleau, there's no secret recipe to the success.

"Keeping it simple and making sure that you're ready right from the bat," Marleau said. "Usually teams come out hard at home the first 10 minutes or so. You have to be ready for that. You have to weather the storm and get your game going in those 10 minutes."

- - -

The Blues lineup against the Sharks tonight:

Alex Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

David Perron-Patrik Berglund-Jamie Langenbrunner

Matt D'Agostini-Jason Arnott-Scott Nichol

Ryan Reaves-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Stewart

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Roman Polak

Kris Russell-Kevin Shattenkirk

Brian Elliott will get the start in goal for the Blues. He beat the Sharks in his St. Louis debut on Oct. 15, stopping 34 shots in a 4-2 win. Jaroslav Halak is the backup.

Along with Cole, the Blues are also scratching winger Chris Porter, who scored Thursday. The Blues are without forward Andy McDonald (concussion), winger B.J. Crombeen (shoulder) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle).

- - -

The Sharks are mixing up their lineup a bit tonight against the Blues:

Ryane Clowe-Logan Couture-Martin Havlat

Jamie McGinn-Joe Thornton-Brad Winchester

Patrick Marleau-Michal Handzus-Joe Pavelski

Frazer McLaren-Andrew Desjardins-Torrey Mitchell

Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Dan Boyle

Brent Burns-Jason Demers

Colin White-Justin Braun

Antti Niemi gets the start for San Jose; Thomas Greiss is the backup. He was in goal when the Blues won 4-2 in San Jose on Oct. 15, stopping 16 shots.

Defensemen Douglas Murray (hand/wrist) and Jim Vandermeer are both nursing upper-body injuries. Goalie Antero Niittymaki (hip) is still on injured reserve but is very close to being activated.

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