Thursday, November 7, 2013

(11-7-13) Flames-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Sitting in the stands in Montreal Tuesday night, Norman Stewart was certainly going to be looking for the best of his son.

That son would be Chris Stewart of the Blues, and Chris didn't disappoint by scoring the game-tying goal of a 3-2 shootout victory.

Stewart, who hasn't tallied the points this season through 13 games (two goals, three assists), but he does have three points in three games, including a goal Tuesday night that comes as a result of going to the net and good things happening with hard work.

"I'm not worried about the goals," said Stewart, who led the Blues with 18 goals last season. "The last five games, I've been getting the most chances probably than I've had in my career. Every time you're getting chances, you've just got to stick with it. I think you could see that from the last game, you're going to get a bounce eventually. Just stick with it."

Of course, a good showing for his dad was a must since he doesn't get a chance to see Norman Stewart often, since the elder Stewart lives in Toronto.

"Being in the Western Conference, it's a little tough playing in front of your family," Stewart said. "Toronto's the only place I haven't played in the NHL. Any time you can get around your family, you get comfortable and share a few laughs, you definitely want to play a good game for them.

"He's a fanatic. He's been a student of the game probably for about 40 years now. He definitely knows his hockey. ... He says he doesn't criticize, he analyzes. He definitely knows what he's talking about."

Stewart played with Alexander Steen and David Backes to start the game at Montreal but then slid back with Vladimir Sobotka and Derek Roy.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has said that certain players need to give more, and by playing them with a Backes or a Steen and/or a T.J. Oshie, it brings that player's level up.

"Confidence grows," Hitchcock said. "I think sometimes when you're a player where expectations are high ... for me, he's gone in fits and starts. He's gone really good, and then he's allowed himself just to be a player in the game.

"We're not disappointed in his game at all, we're trying to get him to the next level where he's an impact player every night and he doesn't fall into the woodwork of the game. We want him to become a difference-maker. We put him with Backes' line, he was good. When we put it back with Sobotka, he was really good, and that's what we need. He can make a difference rather than just kind of meld into the game. That's what we're trying to do is get people who we think are difference-makers to play to that ability rather than just be kind of good players in the game."

Stewart doesn't mind playing with one line or the other. His game doesn't change. It's all about working hard and reaping the rewards as a result of that hard work.

"They're a line that works every second out there on the ice," Stewart said of Backes, Steen and Oshie. "When you play with guys that are going to get that engaged in a game and work that hard, you definitely don't want to let them down and you want to keep pace with them.

"I think my job's going to be the same. I'm going to get in there and forecheck and try and create some of those turnovers and win races to pucks and get back to the net."

- - -

Former Blues defenseman Kris Russell will face his former teammates for the first time tonight since his trade during the off-season.

Russell, who was acquired for a 2014 fifth-round pick, has two goals and eight points in 15 games for the Flames. He's playing with another former Blue -- Dennis Wideman -- and getting more responsibility with a younger Flames team in transition.

"It's a different situation obviously, it's a younger team in a transition period right now," Russell said. "We've had a few injuries and guys have had to step up and play more minutes.

"It's fun playing that style. I feel like I can bring that part of my game up. I'm getting the opportunity and the chance and I just have to keep building, keep improving at it."

After the Blues traded for Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, Russell was pushed down the defensive ladder after arguably playing the best hockey of his career with the Blues last season.

"You never want to get traded, but when you do, if you get the opportunity I'm getting right now, it's something I can really work on and try to get better and try to get some more minutes," said Russell, a Caroline, Alberta native playing closer to home. "I wasn't happy. You want to be on the ice and not sit in the stands, but I have no bad feelings about this organization. We had seven or eight solid defensemen that can play any night. It was a tough lineup to break in, but they were really good to me. It was a fun place to play."

Also facing his former team tonight will be goalie Reto Berra, who was part of the trade that brought Bouwmeester to the Blues.

Berra was a fourth round pick of the Blues in the 2006 NHL Draft but could never crack the lineup in St. Louis. He's getting that chance with the Flames.

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-David Backes- T.J. Oshie

Derek Roy-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Stewart

Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Vladimir Tarasenko

Adam Cracknell-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Jordan Leopold-Roman Polak

Brian Elliott will get the start in goal. Jaroslav Halak is the backup.

Healthy scratches include Ian Cole and Chris Porter. Brenden Morrow and Magnus Paajarvi both remain on injured-reserve with upper-body injuries.

- - -

The Flames' probable lineup:

Lance Bouma-Matt Stajan-David Jones

Tim Jackman-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler

Michael Cammalleri-Joe Colborne-TJ Galiardi

Max Reinhart-Mikael Backlund-Brian McGrattan

Chris Butler-TJ Brodie

Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman

Shane O'Brien-Chad Billins

Reto Berra will get the start in goal. Karri Ramo is the backup.

Healthy scratches include Derek Smith and Sven Baertschi. Mark Giordano (ankle), Curtis Glencross (knee), Lee Stempniak (foot), Christopher Breen (abdomen) are out.

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