Monday, December 26, 2011

(12-26-11) Stars-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Just when the Blues were on the cusp of getting close to a full roster, if not at a full roster, they take another hit.

Winger T.J. Oshie will miss tonight's game against Dallas (6:30 p.m. on Versus, KMOX 1120-AM) and tomorrow night's game at Detroit with a left wrist injury.

Oshie, who is tied for the team lead in points (23) with Alex Steen, came into the ice late for today's morning skate but did minor stick work and not much else.

The injury is the opposite to the wrist Oshie jammed in a game at Minnesota on Nov. 19.

"Osh has a sore wrist and we've opted to get him to as close as to 100 percent as we can," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've opted to keep him out for these two games and put him in against Nashville (Friday). Rather than just keep monitoring it and getting it half way decent. This way, we get it close to 100 percent."

The injury will not require surgery, according to Hitchcock, and the team is hopeful rest will do the trick.

"It's a ligament issue, but it's significant enough where we're getting to where it's just 80 percent," Hitchcock said. "We have a chance now with days off before and then the days off now, we have a chance to get it close to 95 or 100 (percent) and that will allow him to stay in the lineup long-term. We've opted to do that and take the bullet right now.

"It's on the other wrist now, but it's the exact same injury. It's hard to play when you don't have two hands. The other one's fine and this one's aggravated. Rather than go through what we did on the other one, we've opted to take these two games and sit him."

Winger Evgeny Grachev will move up into Oshie's role and play with Patrik Berglund and David Perron tonight.

"This allows a guy like Grachev to move up in the lineup, where he played in exhibition, and we want to see how that looks," Hitchcock said. "From a team standpoint, we feel like we've got enough forwards we can recover nicely. ... We've got lots of options open. We're going to miss him. It's not like you're talking two weeks, three weeks, four weeks or anything like that. You're talking two games and we can survive two games."

The team has recalled Peoria captain Adam Cracknell and he will also be in the lineup tonight as well.

"We brought him in knowing where we were with Oshie and he's playing tonight," Hitchcock said of Cracknell. "We're going to have some obvious options because we're sitting on another two guys (B.J. Crombeen and Vladimir Sobotka). They're not far away either.

"We're going to have a lot of forwards here and within the next week, we're going to have a lot of forwards to pick from. This gives us a chance to look at Adam and see what he's got, too."

Added Cracknell: "A lot more nerves last year. I know what's expected of me. Having a good season, so far, working hard. I know my role up here. I just have got to come in here, help the team win, and keep it going."

Another skater not on the ice this morning was veteran Jamie Langenbrunner, who Hitchcock said has the flu. But Langenbrunner, who has 12 points in 34 games, is probable for the game.

"Langs has the flu. He's probable for tonight. We think he'll be OK," Hitchcock said.

- - -

After being a healthy scratch for the seventh straight game tonight, Hitchcock was asked about defenseman Ian Cole, who has played well during his time in the lineup but will sit for the eighth time in nine games.

"He needs to start playing, whether it’s here or a few games down (in Peoria)," Hitchcock said. "I think we’re at that stage right now. We’ve got to look at that."

Hitchcock said Cole continues to practice well but it’s hard to get one of the top six guys out of the lineup when the team’s playing so well

"When you’re playing well, who do you take out right now," the coach said. "It’s hard to take a guy out right now.

"(Cole) was playing good and you don’t want to get him too far away from the competition. You can only do so many good things in practice."

- - -

While many of the Blues players went home or came back to St. Louis to spend some time resting and relaxing over the holiday break, Matt D’Agostini had a whirlwind couple days.

After the game Friday in Phoenix, D’Agostini caught a red-eye flight to New York to see see his favorite football team (the New York Jets) play the New York Giants. He met up with friends there.

D’Agostini got into NYC at 6 a.m. local time, slept for a couple hours and it was off to Met Life Stadium for the game.

"I got some sleep from about 7 a.m. til about 10," D’Agostini said. "... I had a nice first-class seat on the flight, so I caught some zzz’s on the way."

It was a disappointing end result for D’Agostini, whose Jets fell 29-14 to the Giants and left Rex Ryan’s team in a tough spot for a playoff berth.

"It was disappointing," D’Agostini said. "It puts us in tough shape for a playoff position now. But we had a good time going to the game. It was a good experience. ... To see New York-New York go at it like that, it was a great atmosphere."

One player happy with the result is defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a New York native and a lifelong Giants fan.

He didn’t rub it into D’Agostini’s face too much.

"I’m trying to eat a piece of humble pie, because (the Giants) have a big game against the (Dallas) Cowboys next weekend," Shattenkirk said, sporting a big smile. "... Without a doubt, we have the New York bragging rights at least for another year.

"It would have been nice to be at the game, but luckily I let Dags freeze his butt off and watch a losing team. I think he might have taken off his Jets jersey halfway through the fourth quarter."

- - -

The lineup for the Blues (20-10-4) tonight against the Stars (20-13-1):

Alex Steen-David Backes-Chris Stewart

Evgeny Grachev-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Chris Porter-Jason Arnott-Matt D'Agostini

Adam Cracknell-Scott Nichol-Jamie Langenbrunner

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Kris Russell-Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak gets the start in goal; Brian Elliott will serve as the backup.

Scratches include Cole and RW Ryan Reaves but Reaves has a bit of an issue with his ribs. Players on injured reserve include LW Andy McDonald (concussion), D Kent Huskins (ankle), RW B.J. Crombeen (shoulder) and C Vladimir Sobotka (ankle).

- - -

The Stars, who won the lone meeting between the two teams (3-2) on Oct. 13, did not arrive into St. Louis until early this afternoon, will likely play their lineup they used Friday against Nashville:

Loui Eriksson-Jamie Benn-Michael Ryder

Brenden Morrow-Mike Ribeiro-Steve Ott

Eric Nystrom-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak

Philip Larsen-Tom Wandell-Adam Burish

Sheldon Souray-Adam Pardy

Nicklas Grossman-Trevor Daley

Alex Goligoski-Mark Fistric

Richard Bachman is expected to start in goal; Andrew Raycroft will serve as the backup.

Scratches include C Toby Pederson and C Jake Dowell. Injured players include D Stephane Robidas (foot), G Kari Lehtonen (groin), RW Tomas Vincour (MCL). Lehtonen, who's been out since late November with a groin injury, is expected to return to the lineup Thursday

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