Tuesday, February 3, 2015

(2-3-15) Lightning-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Next man up.

Those were the words of Blues captain David Backes in the locker room Tuesday after the morning skate.

The Blues (32-13-4), who host the Tampa Bay Lightning (32-15-4) on Tuesday (7 p.m. on FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), confirmed on Monday that defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will have abdominal surgery after he left the game Sunday against the Washington Capitals early in the first period. The surgery will take place within the next 7-10 days and he will be out week-to-week.

Shattenkirk, who's second in the NHL in points among defensemen (40), will be a huge void in the Blues' lineup. He's third on the team in minutes played (22:54), is part of the No. 1 power play unit and averages 3:23 of power play time, plays in the top four defensive pairing and is having arguably his best season in the NHL.

However, the Blues are not dwelling on his loss.

"He's a vital part of our team. He'll be missed, but someone else is going to have to step up and fill that void," Backes said. "We can't dwell on what we're missing. We've got to move forward with the 20 guys in the lineup, wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully he's back sooner than later. But these things happen and everyone will have to pick it up just a little bit and keep moving forward."

The Blues will play a third consecutive game without center Jori Lehtera (concussion symptoms) and left wing Patrik Berglund (shoulder). Both injuries were confirmed by general manager Doug Armstrong on Tuesday.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is not only juggling who fills Shattenkirk's role but two players who play in the top nine among forwards.

"We're missing three significant parts, and it has to be absorbed throughout the lineup," Hitchcock said. "Our whole team dynamic has changed because what was a fourth line is now a third line. 

"Shatty played both ends of special teams and played 5-on-5 against top players. It's going to have to be absorbed throughout the group, but Tampa's the same thing, they're missing two top defensemen (Matthew Carle and Radko Gudas) and they don't seem to have missed a beat with it. We're just going to have to make some physical and mental adjustments with our game, get a couple practices in so guys are used to playing in different situations and take it from there.

"It impacts kind of across the board where we have to have everybody take it on. I don't think it's just Shatty."

The loss of Shattenkirk means Kirkwood native Chris Butler will take on a more added responsibility. Butler has been a healthy scratch the past seven games.

"You can't sit around and waste energy and worry about who's playing and who's not playing," Butler said. "It's a team that's built on depth. We're a deep team. That's how we beat teams, that's how we have success. If you've looked at what we've done the last handful of games, it's rolling over those four lines, kind of balancing out the minutes here and there, that's what allows us to be successful. That's what allows us to play the hard game that we like to play.

"Shatty's a tremendous piece of the puzzle that we have in this room. ... You've kind of seen him grow a lot this year. For me, I'm just going to go in there and try to play simple."

Shattenkirk played alongside Alexander Steen on the point. Alex Pietrangelo, who logged a career-high 32:15 on Sunday, steps into the spot on the No. 1 power play unit, as he did on Sunday.

Ian Cole is among those that will log more minutes and play a bigger role. He played the second-most minutes (20:42) in the 4-3 win against the Capitals. Cole and Butler could also see minutes there.

"Those are 23 minutes that are up for grabs," Cole said. "Not one person is going to get the entirety of those minutes, but we're going to have to spread it out, we're going to have to work it by committee and continue to play very solid team defense and continue to play at a high level of checking that we know we can play at. It's going to be tough to replace, but like 'Backs' said, next guy up. You've got to step up, there's nothing you can do about it and you can't cry over spilled milk.

"He's an Olympian and an All-Star and top two in the league in points as a defenseman. He's second on our team in points. ... He's a tough guy to replace; you can't just plug in and say, 'OK, here we go, another guy.' But at the same time, that's what you kind of have to do. He's not going to be here for at least a couple weeks. We have a lot of games, a lot of important games against a lot of good teams. We're going to have to try and replace him and bide our time until he gets back and continue to excel and win a lot of games."

Hitchcock will do some experimenting at practice Wednesday before the team departs for Buffalo and Columbus.

"I don't necessarily lean on one guy. It's a seamless transition putting Petro there where Shatty played; that's seamless," Hitchcock said. "(Jay Bouwmeester's) played a lot there. Cole's played a lot, especially in the minors. Butler's played there. (Carl) Gunnarsson's played there. We'll just see from game to game which pair looks the best and then ride that out. 

"When we get a practice starting tomorrow, we've got two forwards that make a living there. (Ty) Rattie's played the point on the power play all year down there in the minors and (Joakim) Lindstrom's played in Sweden. We didn't practice this because we didn't need it, but if you give us a couple days starting tomorrow, you'll see Rattie and Lindstrom play there also. Not in today's game, but starting tomorrow, we'll start using those guys. They were dynamic back there ... arguably at a different level, but they were very dynamic back there. We'll start using them now."

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The game tonight will feature three players that went to the same high school in the St. Louis area together in 2005. Butler, Blues center Paul Stastny and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop all went and played together at Chaminade College Preparatory School in suburban St. Louis.

"We've been friends for a long time," Butler said of the 6-foot-7 Bishop. "He was our goalie when we were seven, eight years old. A tall, lanky kid then. He just kind of never stopped growing. To be able to play against him now ... I think I've played against him maybe once before. Times before that, either he wasn't playing or I wasn't playing. To play against each other and obviously to have Paul here to play against 'Bish' in St. Louis, it will be something we'll remember. Something hopefully we'll have bragging rights for the summer time on the golf course."

It's an example of how much hockey has come along and grown in St. Louis.

"Growing up in St. Louis, I know we've talked a little about it before, but playing in the NHL wasn't something we expected to do, at least I didn't," Butler said. "Growing up when we were playing high school and when we were playing triple-A tournaments, we'd go on the road and we would just get killed by the Chicago teams, the Detroit teams and to be able to get to this level and now look at the kids that are coming up, every age group's got five, six, seven kids that are going to Division-I schools now. Kids are getting drafted. ... One high school in St. Louis, it is pretty cool."

Bishop, who spent Monday with his family and said he "enjoyed a home-cooked meal," is looking forward to the game.

"I'm not sure if this has ever happened," said Bishop, who was coached by Butler's father, Doug. "It's going to be a lot of fun. Obviously I've played against those guys a few times now and even college I played against them. Hopefully just keep them off the scoresheet and have some bragging rights for the summer. So it'll be fun to go against them. It's a good night for Chaminade High School."

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Backes will be in the lineup tonight after receiving the second five-minute major and game-misconduct of his career for boarding Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner. The first one was rescinded.

"Yeah, it's nine years now and I've had one major penalty that was quickly rescinded right after that," Backes said. "Now this one, where I think it's pretty benign — he hops back up and doesn't miss a shift.

"Never looking to hurt anyone out there. The rules are the rules, I guess, and if there's blood, (then the ejection was warranted). But the result is, the guys had one heck of a penalty kill for that five minutes, really got momentum off that and played a heck of a game ... They really picked me up."

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The Blues are 10-0-1 and with at least a point, they can match the longest streak in franchise history (12 games) with at least a point. They established the mark in the 2000-01 season (11-0-1).

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Tonight's game features the Nos. 1 and 2 scoring teams in the NHL.

The Lightning has scored 166 goals in 51 games; the Blues have scored 160 goals in 49 games. The Blues are actually No. 1 in average goals per game. They're at 3.26 goals-per-game; the Lightning is averaging 3.25 goals per game.

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The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin-Joakim Lindstrom-Ty Rattie

Steve Ott-Marcel Goc-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietragelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Chris Butler

Barret Jackman-Ian Cole

Brian Elliott will get the start in goal. Jake Allen will be the backup.

Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen), Jori Lehtera (upper body), Patrik Berglund (upper body) and Chris Porter (ankle) are out.

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The Lightning's probable lineup:

Valtteri Filppula-Steven Stamkos-Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn-Cedric Paquette-Jonathan Drouin

Brenden Morrow-Brian Boyle-Brett Connolly

Anton Stralman-Victor Hedman

Luke Witkowski-Mark Barberio

Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop will start in goal. Andrei Vasilevskiy will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include J.T. Brown and Nikita Nesterov. Radko Gudas (knee) and Matthew Carle (abdomen) are out indefinitely.

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