Friday, November 28, 2014

(11-28-14) Oilers-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues aren't looking at the Edmonton Oilers as the team with the fewest points in the Western Conference.

The Oilers, 0-11-2 against Western Conference foes this season coming off a 1-0 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, are winless in the past eight games (0-6-2). 

And on the second of back-to-back nights, all the numbers support the Blues (14-6-2) to have an easy time of it Friday.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock views Edmonton as a team to be reckoned with.

"First of all, we're looking at the last five periods they played," Hitchcock said of the Oilers. "They should have won the last five periods. They deserved to win last night. They played great in the last two periods against Dallas (on Tuesday). That's the five periods we're focused on. 

"What their record is, is not relevant for me. It's the way they're playing. They look like they're starting to catch up. The continuity and balance between checking and offense looks like it's really caught up. They look like a team that's starting to go this way (pointing upwards) now."

The Blues are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss against the Ottawa Senators and want to get their own ship squared away after losing a 2-0 third-period lead.

"Our focus more is we did not play that great against Ottawa," Hitchcock said. "We had no legs, we had no energy. It's more about us getting our energy back. 

"These are two big weekend games back-to-back. I told our players if we don't play the way they play. We don't have that type of transitional speed that they do, but I don't think that they can play the way we play. So we have to dictate. For us to win, we have to dictate the game today. That means we've got to get them stopped and we've got to get them defending, and that's the whole focus. If we make them play defense more than they want to, I think we can win the hockey game. But if we get caught in that transitional game that I saw the last five periods, it's going to be a tough go for anybody."

Left wing Jaden Schwartz said the players took the meetings Friday talking about the Oilers to heart.

"They're going to be a hungry hockey team," Schwartz said. "I saw they put up 37 shots yesterday on (Pekka) Rinne. I heard they outplayed them for a lot of the game. They're going to be a hungry hockey team looking for a win obviously. We know what that's like when you've got a couple losses in a row. You want to get that win badly. We're not going to take them lighter than we do any other team."

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Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (lower body) will not play tonight or tomorrow night in Minnesota and will miss his third and fourth games, respectively.

Bouwmeester, who saw his Ironman Streak come to an end at 737 games when he was injured last week in Ottawa, is expected to be ready to skate with the team after Sunday's off-day.

"'Bouw' skated for a second day today," Hitchcock said. "He's going to practice with us on Monday. He'll take tomorrow off, skate full with the training staff on Sunday and he'll practice in full with us on Monday."

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The Blues are going with a country flavor to their lines tonight against the Oilers.

There will be an American Line, a Swedish line and a ... Euro Line?

Hitchcock said Schwartz plays like a 'Euro' to go with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"No, I'm going to have to disagree with him on that one," Schwartz joked when told of Hitchcock's comment. "But I'll take the compliment."

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With a win tonight, Hitchcock can tie Mike Keenan for most career coaching victories (672) and be tied for 6th all-time. Pat Quinn, who passed away on Monday, is 5th at 684.

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The Blues' probable lineup:

T.J. Oshie-Paul Stastny-David Backes

Alexander Steen-Patrik Berglund-Joakim Lindstrom

Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Steve Ott-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Chris Butler-Ian Cole

Jake Allen will start in goal. Jordan Binnington is the backup.

Chris Porter and Magnus Paajarvi will be healthy scratches. Brian Elliott (lower body) and Jay Bouwmeester (lower body) are out.

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The Oilers' projected lineup:

Taylor Hall-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov-Mark Arcobello-Teddy Purcell

Jesse Joensuu-Leon Draisaitl-David Perron

Luke Gazdic-Boyd Gordon-Steve Pinizzotto

Nikita Nikitin-Mark Fayne

Oscar Klefbom-Jeff Petry

Justin Schultz-Andrew Ference

Ben Scrivens is the likely starter after Viktor Fasth, who is expected to be the backup, was the starter Thursday in Nashville.

Scratches include Keith Aulie and Martin Marincin. Benoit Pouliot (broken foot), Matt Hendricks (leg) are injured.

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