Monday, November 25, 2013

(11-25-13) Wild-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Less than two weeks after signing a one-year, $550,000 contract, Carlo Colaiacovo will make his second debut with the Blues on Monday.

Colaiacovo was brought back to the team after defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand surgery) was lost for two months to provide veteran depth. After being bought out of the final year of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings this past summer, the 30-year-old Colaiacovo was without a job but keeping in hockey shape in Toronto.

Colaiacovo got the call from the Blues and a contract was consummated quickly.

"That's what I was told. Hopefully that's the case. If it is, it's exciting for me," Colaiacovo said regarding his insertion into the lineup. "... At the end of the day, I'm confident in myself, I'm confident in my abilities that I can come in here and play a simple game, use the experience of my partner and the guys on the backend and just focus on getting a win."

Colaiacovo, acquired in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008 along with Alexander Steen for Lee Stempniak, has been a healthy scratch for six games while getting himself in game shape working with the team in a daily basis.

"I've done a lot of hard work off the ice to keep myself in the best shape possible for a situation like this," Colaiacovo said. "I feel really good on the ice. I think for me, it's just the excitement of finally getting back into a game. I've played a lot of hockey over my career. I've faced scenarios like this where I haven't played in a long time and I've always fared pretty well. At the end of the day, I've just got to focus on keeping things simple, using my smarts, using my instincts and focusing on playing well."

Colaiacovo will get his chance against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m. on NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM) because fellow defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was not at the morning skate. Coach Ken Hitchcock said Shattenkirk is sick -- the Blues (16-3-3) have been dealing with the flu bug off and on the past week or so -- and will sit out tonight's game. Hitchcock said that Colaiacovo was in the lineup regardless of Shattenkirk's situation.

"He's sick, so our preference with anybody that has sickness this year is just to keep them away from the team," Hitchcock said of Shattenkirk. "... We'll read it into the rest of the day, but our preference is to keep him away from the group and let him get some sleep and rest.

"As soon as a guy calls in sick, we just tell him to stay home. Every team goes through it. We've been lucky that guys have come back and played the same day that they've been sick, or the night before. This is now player No. 5. You just manage it properly. If the other four all came back and played in the game, we expect that to be happening again. But you never know. We're not going to risk one hockey game to add another six or seven players because a guy's in here. Back to the infirmary."

Hitchcock is confident inserting Colaiacovo into the lineup.

"He's been ready for a week," Hitchcock said. "Regardless of whether Shatty plays or not, Carlo's in for sure. He's playing.

"He's a great puck distributor, he's smart, he plays sneaky-good minutes. He's a real complimentary player. He can play minutes killing penalties, he can play on the power play ... he can add to the group. I think when you work as hard as he's worked and do the things that we ask him to do, I think Brad thought he was up to speed conditioning-wise a week ago, we kept him the extra week to work him right through it and he's ready to go."

Colaiacovo, a left-handed shot, was taking line rushes on the right side playing with Barret Jackman and will play with him tonight.

"I think the familiarity with the way we play and the players we have, definitely helps," Colaiacovo said. "It creates a comfort level for me that I'm able to go out there and do good at what I'm doing. Obviously I feel comfortable with who I'm playing with. I know them both on and off the ice."

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Ryan Reaves' broken right hand will sideline the Blues' enforcer for six weeks before he's reevaluated, the team announced Monday. He had surgery to repair the damage done as a result of a fight Saturday against Dallas. Magnus Paajarvi draws back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch Saturday against the Stars.

Paajarvi, who scored his first goal as a Blue Tuesday at Buffalo, will play on his off-wing with Brenden Morrow and Maxim Lapierre.

"First of all, before he got hurt, he was playing great," Hitchcock said of Paajarvi, who has one goal in seven games. "We were really happy with him. He was playing third-line minutes, exactly as advertised. Right wing is more comfortable for him, so this is a real opportunity for him. We were happy with the game he played in Boston. If he's going to build on that, that's good stuff. We'd like him to stay healthy here because the way we play and the energy that he brings, I think is really going to be positive for us. We need him to get back where he was before the injury because he was a really effective player for us."

Hitchcock said Paajarvi will eventually work his way up the lineup.

"I think the coach mis-uses him a little bit," Hitchcock said. "I think we have other people playing well in that spot. As I said during training camp and the first part of the season, he's not as advertised. I think he's a way better player offensively than he's given credit for ... way better. I think he does things naturally offensively that he did in Sweden that he's comfortable with doing here. I think at the end of the day, he's going to end up as a second-line winger, but I think because of the way we're built and the way we're structured, we use him as a third- or fourth-line winger. I think the details of the checking part of his game, we still need to get a lot of work. At times he gets on the wrong side of the puck, but I think offensively, he's way, way better than advertised."

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The Wild (15-5-4), who have been shuffling the deck as well, will get veteran Mike Rupp (lower body injury) back in the lineup against the Blues. He has not played a game this season. Goalie Josh Harding (lower body injury) stayed back in Minnesota after returning there Sunday following an injury that occurred during the pre-game warm-up against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Mikael Granlund (upper body injury) will miss his second straight game.

"He just stayed back," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Harding. "Just day to day and obviously we'll see what happens here in the next couple days.

"Obviously it's tough to tell on a morning skate. We've got to see (Rupp) in some game action. It's a different pace once the puck drops but anxious to have him back. ... I was hoping to have (Granlund) here today, but we're going to keep him off again today and we'll call it day to day too."

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The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz-Vladimir Sobotka-Vladimir Tarasenko

Derek Roy-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Brenden Morrow-Maxim Lapierre-Magnus Paajarvi

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Carlo Colaiacovo

Ian Cole-Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal. Brian Elliott will be the backup.

Adam Cracknell will be the healthy scratch. Kevin Shattenkirk (sick) will be a game-time decision. Jordan Leopold (hand) and Ryan Reaves (hand) are on injured reserve.

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The Wild's probable lineup:

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker-Charlie Coyle-Justin Fontaine

Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Nino Niederreiter

Mike Rupp-Zenon Konopka-Dany Heatley

Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser

Niklas Backstrom will start in goal. Darcy Kuemper will be the backup.

Matt Dumba is the lone healthy scratch. Josh Harding (lower body), Keith Ballard (upper body), Mikael Granlund (upper body), Torrey Mitchell (leg) are out with injuries for the Wild.

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