By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Not looking to sugarcoat underachieving, the Blues will make one change to their lineup when they host the Calgary Flames today.
Chris Porter, a healthy scratch for the opener against the New York Rangers, will replace Maxim Lapierre on the Blues' fourth line when they drop the puck at 6 p.m. (FSN, KYKY 98.1-FM).
The Blues, who dropped a 3-2 decision against the Rangers, are expected to use Porter as the center on a line with Steve Ott and Ryan Reaves.
"We've played together before, last year a bit in the playoffs," Porter said. "So I think we all kind of have a good familiarity there -- play a pretty simple game, do a good job of creating energy and good in our own zone.
"They probably would rather have me on the left side, but I've definitely played up the middle. Wherever they need it is fine by me."
Porter is glad to be playing, period.
"I'm going to bring energy, physicality to the game," Porter said. "I thought the guys the second half of the game (Thursday) really picked that up, so I'll try and just step in and make it as seamless as possible."
Forwards Paul Stastny (quad contusion) and Patrik Berglund (upper body) were both part of the morning skate after sitting out Friday's practice. Stastny is back in the lineup, but Berglund was not on the ice for the pregame skate and was a late scratch.
"I wouldn't read our lineup into anything right now," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after the morning skate. "We're kind of moment to moment with a few guys here."
Stastny comes into the matchup Saturday with impressive numbers against the Flames. In 40 career games, Stastny has 19 goals and 27 assists.
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It's not considered a must-win, but with the Blues heading out on a three-game trip on the West Coast (to Los Angeles, Arizona and Anaheim) after the game tonight, a win on home ice would be well-timed. The Blues will leave for a team bonding trip to Palm Springs, Calif. for three days before settling into Los Angeles, where they'll play the Kings on Thursday night.
"It's pretty early. We want to play well. We want to play well for 60 minutes," Hitchcock said. "We put 40 great minutes in (the) last game and we'd like to put 60 in. I think we let New York dictate period one. We don't want to let Calgary dictate. They've got too many tenacious, high-energy guys so we can't let them dictate. We've got to do that ourselves.
"You want to win because it's a good feeling. For us, you don't want to be grabbing the game in the second period all the time trying to get to play the right way. We really played well in the second and third and we want to try to out that out there for 60 minutes so we get ourselves into a rhythm. To me when you keep trying to grab the game, you're playing catch-up all the time. It was a heck of a hockey game and as some of our players and some of the Ranger players said, it was a Game 7. You expect that when you've got two great teams going at it early in the year, you expect to be acting and behaving like it was a sudden death game."
Nipping losses in the bud, especially for consecutive games at home, is what the Blues will hope to accomplish.
"You try to limit that as many times as you can," defenseman Jordan Leopold, a former Flame, said. "We did some good things later in the game. I think we found our game late. They got a fortunate bounce on the last one, but if we come out with that kind of start, we should have a better outcome than we had last game."
"Hopefully we get away on a high note. That's a goal, feel good about yourself, have a little confidence, have a little bit of enjoyment and get some down time. Of course, maybe I'll catch up on some speed I haven't had due to watching my kids."
By getting into their game, the Blues will look for an early north-south game.
"It happens with adversity. I think it happens with people looking and saying, 'OK, this is how we had success in the game and this is how we didn't and lets get more guys on that page,'" Hitchcock said. "I think it's been typical of our exhibition games. We incorporated more puck skill into our groups, but it's not losing our principals that made us so successful here f or the last three years. Sometimes you have to engage in games that matter for two points before it really hits home. I think it's starting to hit home and hopefully we can start to improve on it.
"Calgary plays the best territorial game I've seen so far. We've got to take them out of their territorial game. We've got to make them defend more than they want to. I think that when they're allowed to dictate and put pressure on people, they come at you. They're very aggressive on the forecheck. They're very aggressive in the neutral zone. We've got to make them defend more than they want to, because once they get a beat on you, they've got foot speed and tenacity that can take the game over like they did in the third period against Edmonton. We've got to find a way to make sure that we make them defend more than they want to."
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The Flames, who are 1-1, will be without forwards Jiri Hudler (sick) and David Jones (lower body) but will get former Blue Dennis Wideman, who was a healthy scratch in their 5-2 win against Edmonton on Thursday, back into the lineup.
Hudler, who is tied for fourth in the NHL with three points (two goals), became sick overnight according to coach Bob Hartley, who said Hudler is "very, very doubtful" for the game.
Along with Devin Setoguchi making his Flames debut, enforcer Brian McGrattan will step into the Flames lineup, and paired with former Chicago Blackhawk and St. Charles native Brandon Bollig, Reaves may have his hands full.
"I think you've kind of seen me in the last couple years not really do something until something's needed," Reaves said. "You know I always will so, if something happens in the game where we need a spark or something doesn't go our way and I need to go out and do something, I absolutely will. I'm not just going out looking for something for no reason.
"That's always my role and I embrace it. I love that part about hockey and that's the one thing I bring to the team better than anything else I do. If we need a little extra physicality, I'm always there to do it."
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The Blues' lineup:
Steve Ott-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Joakim Lindstrom
Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Porter-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman-Jordan Leopold
Brian Elliott will start in goal. Jake Allen will be the backup.
Carl Gunnarsson (hip) hopes to get clearance when he visits a specialist in Nashville on Monday. Patrik Berglund (upper body) was a late injury scratch. Magnus Paajarvi is the lone healthy scratch.
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The Flames' lineup:
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Lance Bouma
Johnny Gaudreau-Joe Colborne-Mason Raymond
Paul Byron-Sean Monahan-Devin Setoguchi
Brandon Bollig-Matt Stajan-Brian McGrattan
Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie
Kris Russell-Deryk Engelland
Ladislav Smid-Dennis Wideman
Jonas Hiller will start in goal. Karri Ramo is the backup.
Jiri Hudler and Raphael Diaz will be scratched. Corey Potter (shoulder), Sam Bennett (shoulder) and David Jones (lower body) are out with injuries.