Tuesday, April 9, 2013

(4-9-13) Blues-Predators Gameday Lineup

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dmitrij Jaskin just stepped off the ice at Bridgestone Arena huffing and puffing.

That's what not skating for nine days can even do to a 20-year-old in the best shape of his life.

Jaskin, the Blues' 2011 second-round draft pick (41st overall), was officially recalled by the team Tuesday morning. He arrived in Nashville Monday night after a 99-point season (including 46 goals) in just 51 games for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Jaskin (pronounced Yash-kin) will not play tonight when the Blues (21-14-2) face the depleted Nashville Predators (15-17-8) at 7 p.m. (FSN, Y-98 FM). Coach Ken Hitchcock would like to see Jaskin in a few practices before he gets a good read on the 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward who said he prefers to play right wing. But Hitchcock won't hesitate inserting Jaskin into the lineup if he can help the Blues win.

"To me, as soon as he looks like he's ready to play, we're going to put him in," Hitchcock said of Jaskin. "If he looks like he can help us, I don't really care. If he can help us win a hockey game, then he's going to go in and play."

That judgment was based on Jaskin's initial skate with the Blues this morning, which Hitchcock thought was impressive.

"As advertised. He's got light feet, he's got great quickness in small spaces, shoots the puck ... he's as advertised," Hitchcock said. "You've got to see him in a hockey practice and then pour it into a game, but jeez, he looks like a great package. He's got size, he's got quickness, he's smooth with the puck. This is his first skate, but for a guy that's not skated for nine days and then coming and looking like that today is pretty impressive."

It's been a whirlwind for Jaskin, who has limited game experience playing with fellow Blue Vladimir Sobotka. He first had to get out of his contract with Slavia Praha HC of the Czech Republic, then make his way to Moncton before being bolted to the Blues with no experience playing with the American Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen.

"It's exciting and something new for me," Jaskin said. "It's like a dream. I just try my best and I will be doing everything I can to stay here on this team.

"I still don't know what to think about it. It's so quick and everything. I don't have a lot of time thinking about it. I just go where I need to go and we'll see; just try my best and stay focused. ... It was something new for me. It was really fast, too. I just was drafted in the summer. After a couple weeks, I go to Canada. Don't know the language, don't know the lifestyle and everything. It was all new for me, too. I just appreciated the Wildcats organization and everybody who was there to help me with everything."

Jaskin, who will wear No. 26, skated with the Blues' fourth line skaters Tuesday, but from Sobotka's comments, he could very easily become a top nine or even a top six player.

"I think he's a shooter too who can score a goal," Sobotka said. "... I played with him maybe two or three games, but we practiced together and worked out together the last couple years together.

"He's a strong kid and he can score, good skills."

Hitchcock compared Jaskin to Marian Hossa last week. Jaskin likes to think he can play along those lines.

"I think I'm this type of player (like) Hossa, (Johan) Franzen, (Tomas) Holmstrom," Jaskin said. "I think my place here will be fight for the puck, try to shoot from everywhere and do anything the coach would want from me. Just help the team. ... I'm big so I need to use my body."

Jaskin worked in all the drills and seemed to fit in well in his first skate.

"It's good for me," he said. "I need couple days practice. I think I will be ready in a couple days."

- - -

After missing Sunday's 1-0 win at Detroit, forward Andy McDonald (flu) will be back in the lineup tonight.

McDonald, who has four goals and 15 points in 26 games this season, skated on a line with Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"Feeling good. Rough few days there with the flu, but I'm happy to be back," McDonald said after practice. "... With the flu, I wasn't able to eat there for a day. You worry about stamina and endurance, so probably early, try to keep the shifts as short as possible and hopefully not lose too much."

That means Kris Russell gets pushed back out of the lineup and Chris Porter goes back to playing on the fourth line at center, where he was Thursday at Chicago and at home Friday against Columbus. Russell filled in a fourth-line left winger in McDonald's absence Sunday.

Andy's going to play," Hitchcock said. "That'll give us the 12 forwards that we designed for the last game, so same combination before he went down. We'll see how we look and see how it looks.

"If he doesn't have the energy, we'll just move Porter into the left side during the game at some period of time."

About playing McDonald with Sobotka and Tarasenko, Hitchcock said: "I think they want to play together. It's a give-and-go line. We'll see. Things look good on paper, but until the competition's on, we'll have to see. I want to see how it looks during the game. Sobe needs to play that type of game. He's not one of these puck-luggers that can control the gamer that way. He's a give-and-go guy. He uses his quickness and that's the same way Andy plays. Tarasenko's a dot-to-dot player, a very good shooter. Hopefully they have some chemistry."

- - -

Forward T.J. Oshie (foot soreness) skated for a second straight day Tuesday but is not ready to get back into the lineup.

Oshie, who was hurt blocking a shot March 28 against Los Angeles, has missed four games. He was seen skating favoring his foot Monday but was more assertive in drills Tuesday.

"It's not ginger," Hitchcock said of the affected area. "It's more the comfort of the way the boot fits. Right now, he can't get it to where it's flexible enough to ... he's gone from practicing in skates to practicing in ski boots. We can't get it comfortable enough to where it's flexible enough.

"I still think we're days away. We'll just have to keep building it up. Today was his best day here because tight turn drills that we needed him to do. What he's not able to do is some of the pivot stuff because we've got the boot so stiff right now. We're working on it though."

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

David Perron-David Backes-Alexander Steen

Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Andy McDonald-Vladimir Sobotka-Vladimir Tarasenko

Adam Cracknell-Chris Porter-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Jordan Leopold-Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman-Roman Polak

Brian Elliott, who celebrates his 28th birthday today, will start coming off a 28-save shutout at Detroit Sunday; Jake Allen will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Russell, Ian Cole and Jaskin. Oshie, Jaroslav Halak (groin), Scott Nichol (soreness) and Jamie Langenbrunner (hip) remain out with injuries.

- - -

The Predators, who recalled another forward from Milwaukee (AHL) Tuesday, will use this probable lineup:

Taylor Beck-David Legwand-Patric Hornqvist

Rich Clune-Nick Spaling-Matt Halischuk

Sergei Kostitsyn-Austin Watson-Craig Smith

Bobby Butler-Chris Mueller-Daniel Bang

Roman Josi-Shea Weber

Victor Bartley-Kevin Klein

Hal Gill-Jonathon Blum

Pekka Rinne gets the start in goal; Chris Mason is the backup.

Injured players Paul Gaustad (upper-body), Mike Fisher (upper-body), Gabriel Bourque (upper-body); Colin Wilson (upper-body) and Brandon Yip (lower-body).

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