Wednesday, December 3, 2014

(12-3-14) Blues-Blackhawks Gameday Lineup

CHICAGO -- The news of the passing of Montreal Canadiens icon Jean Beliveau has affected everyone in the hockey world.

And for a pair of French-Canadian Blues (Martin Brodeur and Maxim Lapierre), the shock of the loss of Beliveau obviously struck them.

"He was an icon in Montreal for years," Brodeur said. "Every hockey player tried to model himself the way he acted on and off the ice. We definitely have a special connection with Mr. Beliveau through my Dad (Denis Brodeur) through all the years that he worked with and played with him. It was just a nice relationship to have an icon like that being so close to our family, so definitely it's something that's always sad. 

"I lost my Dad last year, so I know how everybody feels."

Beliveau, who wore No. 4 with the Canadiens during his playing days (1950-71), was a player that won an incredible 10 Stanley Cup titles and another seven as a member of the organization.

"That's unbelievable," Lapierre said. "I don't know if somebody's going to do that again. It's a lot and I know it means a lot to people, but for people from Montreal, it's even a bigger deal. I didn't grow up watching him because I was too young but for sure heard a lot about him.

"It's sad. We all know from Montreal what he's done for the league and the team. It's obviously a big loss. I remember talking to him maybe once or twice going to the games and always a positive man that was telling the young guys coming in to have fun and enjoy the challenge. It's a big loss; it's sad."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock classified Beliveau, who scored 507 goals in 18 seasons, as one of the all-time greats.

"That whole crew from Jean to Gordie (Howe) to Alex Delvecchio, that's kind of everybody's hero that grew up in hockey," Hitchcock said. "Everybody had their own player or players that they loved and appreciated. For me, it's Gordie and Alex and for other people, it's Jean or Pocket (Henri Richard) or Maurice (Richard) or whatever. 

"Tough news. They came from a special time when you knew every player on every team and you knew who's team you were cheering for and who your heroes were on that team."

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Jake Allen was cheered in this very same city just a season ago.

As a member of the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, Allen was named the AHL goalie of the year when he went 33-16-3 with a2.03 goals-against average and .928 save percentage with seven shutouts.

But when the Blues (16-6-2) drop the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks (15-8-1) at 7 p.m. (NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM), Allen will become one of the villains Blackhawks fans will come to hate.

"To me, it's just another game in another building," said Allen, who's 8-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA and .928 save percentage. "It's a great rivalry, very intense matchup, but I'm looking forward to just getting on the ice and getting another game under my belt. Big test for us tonight.

"The Wolves was just a team in the same city. No relation, no affiliation. Part of our organization. It's cool to be back here, but playing on the bigger stage is the one I want to play on. I had a great year last year but looking forward to tonight."

Hitchcock, who gave Allen his first NHL start in Detroit against the Red Wings during the lockout-shortened season, will get a good feel for Allen's performance and whether he could withstand the atmosphere he will face tonight after the game.

"Don't know," Hitchcock said. "Who knows what (Antti) Raanta's going to do. It's new for both guys. 

"This is why you play young guys, to get used to this type of stuff, but I don't really know until we can evaluate after. He's had some big starts already this year, which is a good sign, but this is a significant opponent who's on top of their game. He's going to get challenged offensively at the net and in the offensive zone more than he's probably got challenged in the last month, so we're going to get to see. I can tell you I don't know that we can get outplayed any more than we did against Minnesota in the first period and he held us in there, so we're hoping that he can hold us in there the same way again."

Chris Porter, who will draw back into the lineup again tonight, has seen both ends of the Chicago hockey teams firsthand.

"He probably had to get the people from the suburbs to come and see him," Porter joked about Allen. "I'm sure he's well-liked all throughout Chicago."

Is it a whole different animal?

"Yeah probably, but they don't have the fireworks show like they had at the Wolves arena," Porter joked. "I think they're lacking there, but I think the crowd speaks for itself."

- - -

Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will miss his fifth straight game tonight with what has been a lingering groin injury sustained Nov. 22 against the Ottawa Senators.

Bouwmeester, who skated the past two days but was removed early Tuesday, rode the bike as players were on the ice for an optional skate.

"We kept him off the ice by design," Hitchcock said of Bouwmeester. "We worked him to a certain level. We wanted to rest him today, skate him again tomorrow and then we'll see. We'll see if he's ready to go. If we've got to hold him out to the weekend, then we'll do that. Today was a designed non-compete day because we pushed him so hard yesterday. We'll do a lot of in-zone stuff with him tomorrow and see how he feels.

"We don't want this thing to be a hindrance. We're opting to go on the safety side. If this were a game where it was a playoff game, we might consider something different, but we've opted to stay until it's 100 percent. We'll give it another real hard test tomorrow, see how he feels and evaluate from there."

- - -

After missing Saturday with what Hitchcock called a groin injury, Steve Ott returns to the lineup and Joakim Lindstrom is a healthy scratch for the third time in the past seven games after playing 17 of the first 18 games.

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie

Steve Ott-Patrik Berglund-David Backes

Chris Porter-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Chris Butler-Ian Cole

Jake Allen will start in goal. Martin Brodeur will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Joakim Lindstrom and Magnus Paajarvi. Brian Elliott (knee) and Jay Bouwmeester (groin) are out.

- - -

The Blackhawks' probable lineup:

Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg-Brad Richards-Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell-Andrew Shaw-Daniel Carcillo

Joakim Nordstrom-Marcus Kruger-Ben Smith

Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya-Niklas Hjamlarsson

Michal Rozsival-David Rundblad

Antti Raanta will get the start in goal. Scott Darling will be the backup.

Jeremy Morin and Adam Clendening will be healthy scratches. Corey Crawford (lower body), Patrick Sharp (knee) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (patella tendon) are out with injuries.

Crawford will miss 2-3 weeks after sustaining a non-hockey related lower-body injury to his left foot while attending a concert. Crawford was wearing a walking boot on his left foot and said he was leaving a concert the other night and "missed a step."

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