Thursday, April 2, 2015

(4-2-15) Flames-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Ty Rattie grew up in nearby Airdrie, Alberta, which is a 30-minute drive north of Calgary. The Blues right wing was a big Calgary Flames fan growing up, following the likes of Jarome Iginla.

Rattie, recalled by the Blues following lower-body injuries to Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko, will be in the lineup when the Blues (46-23-7) face the Flames (42-28-7) in a key Western Conference matchup (7 p.m. on FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM). It will be the first time Rattie will face his favorite childhood team in his NHL career. He's played in seven NHL games the past two seasons.

It was a good news, bad news situation for Rattie on Wednesday, as he's in the middle of trying to help the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League make the playoffs when he got the news he was going to the Blues.

"(Wolves coach) John Anderson pulled me aside and said, 'Bad news is you're not playing tonight; good news is you're going up,'" Rattie said. "Obviously that's a good way to hear about it and exciting."

The Blues, who have a chance to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with either a point Thursday or a Los Angeles Kings regulation loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, will insert Rattie into a third-line role with veteran Olli Jokinen (a former Flame) and Jori Lehtera.

"It was obviously a little bit of a surprise, but you're excited nonetheless," Rattie, who has one assist in five games this season, said. "I'm ready to go and I'm looking forward to it. I feel good.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. When I grew up, it was all about the Flames. I watched every single game, me and my family. To get to play them tonight is going to be a lot of fun and it'll be a special memory."

Especially since Rattie recalled his time watching the Flames battle the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, when he was only 11 years old.

"Jarome Iginla was the man," Rattie said. "I named my dog after (goalie Miikka) Kiprusoff, his name's Kipper. 

"That run they had when they lost to Tampa Bay was my favorite childhood memory. We watched every game with my family. I still think that (Martin) Gelinas goal went in, but it was a lot of fun and it's going to be a lot of fun to play them tonight."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock did not waste any time putting Rattie into the lineup to try and help the Blues avoid a third straight defeat. They're 1-3-2 in the past six games.

"He didn't get better when he first went down (in early February)," Hitchcock said of Rattie. "He got down on himself a little bit, he got down on the situation. He played really well when he was up here. We were really happy with him. He went down and there was the bounce down a little bit that we expected and here in the last two or three weeks, he's been white-hot. He's been playing hard, he's been scoring, he's been setting up people. He's been playing with great tempo in his game. 

"With players that are missing, he's got a similar attribute and we're really looking forward to taking a hard look at him here. This for him couldn't happen at a better time because he gets to play in a situation he's comfortable in. He gets some good pros and good veterans who are accountable, so he's not coming in with a bunch of kids and playing a fourth line role. He's going to get up there and running right away, so we're looking forward to it."

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In the absence of Tarasenko, who leads the Blues in goals (35) and points (71), and Steen, who leads the Blues with 38 assists and is second in points with 62, Hitchcock has assembled a top line of Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie.

"I'm part curious and really excited to see how this looks because it was dynamic yesterday at practice," Hitchcock said. "It was different than anything we've done, but it was packed with energy so we'll see. We're going to have to play a few games like this. It's not a big deal, but it's going to give other guys a chance.

"I think the biggest adjustment for us is going to be on special teams, especially on the power play. We've had real good continuity on the power play and all of the sudden, you're changing two big pieces on it. A couple hockey practices probably isn't enough to work on it, so we're going to really have to keep that simple. When we practiced with it on the power play yesterday, we had some adjustments that we had to make but when we went back on the ice with it back today, we're still in the middle of those adjustments."

Oshie, who's played with Stastny in the Winter Olympics in Sochi last year and very briefly in a game this season, is looking forward to it.

"I've played with 'Stas' before," Oshie said. "We read off each other pretty well. 'Schwartzy' makes any line he's on better. I'm excited for this. We ply for the most part the same system throughout the whole team, but you build different chemistry, you know where different people are going to be most times. 'Backs' and I have played together for a long time now, so we know where each other are going to be.

"I think that's the good thing about having a deep team is we've got guys who are excited to step in there and maybe not fill that exact role but go in and fill a role that needs to be filled. You can't replace those two guys, but we've got guys that can step in and make a difference."

Stastny goes from playing third-line center to a top-line role.

"This is an awesome opportunity for him and that line to show us what we think they're capable of," Hitchcock said of Stastny, who has 14 goals and 43 points in 68 games. "His role changes a little bit, but his game won't change. If I was him, I would look at this as what an opportunity. I think he'll take advantage of it."

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With a win tonight, goalie Jake Allen would join Brian Elliott with 20 or more wins.

Only one other goalie tandem (Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers) has accomplished the feat of two goalies with 20 or more wins.

"Everybody talks about 1A and 1B, we're a perfect example of that," Hitchcock said. "There's not many teams in the league that have got what we've got going. That's what's given us the record. If you look at us for four years since I've been here, this is what's given us the record. We've had two goalies that we can win with. Every season we've had two guys that we can count on. It's a big deal. 

"I know there's a couple teams on the outside (of the playoffs) looking in and they'd be crying for one of our guys because it would have made a difference to their season. These guys have really helped us. When you can play three in four nights and quite frankly Jake's got that brunt game; he's got the third game against a difficult opponent. We've come off back-to-back, been really tired and he's had to win us points and he's won us a lot of points in those games."

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With Robert Bortuzzo, a healthy scratch the past two games, rejoining the lineup tonight in favor of Carl Gunnarsson, it gives Hitchcock a chance to maneuver with what he wants to do with Kevin Shattenkirk.

Shattenkirk, a right-handed defenseman, will start the game on his left side alongside Zbynek Michalek, but don't be surprised to see Shattenkirk wind up playing on the left side with Alex Pietrangelo.

"Early in the game in the first period, we're going to make a decision looking at this whether we play him with Michalek or whether we play him and just load up and play him with 'Petro,'" Hitchcock said of Shattenkirk. "We'll probably use both combos today and take a look at that to see how that looks. 

"This is an opportunity to get a guy like Bortuzzo in the lineup. I think we've missed him. We've missed his presence, we've missed his game, we've missed his enthusiasm. I think it showed up the last two games."

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Speaking of Pietrangelo, the jinx is on -- from a reporter's standpoint.

With Tarasenko out of the lineup tonight for the first time this season, Pietragelo is the lone guy standing to play in every game for the Blues. It will be Game No. 77.

"You know you guys are just jinxing me, is what you're doing," Pietrangelo joked. "... You prepare in the off-season, you prepare in the season to create some longevity  to hopefully play throughout the year. That's what I've done. I've tried to maintain myself off the ice. It's never easy sitting at home watching. You really work to try and avoid that.

"I'm not 700 in a row like 'Bouw' but maybe one day we'll get there. This is a start."

Pietrangelo would have played in all 81 games last season but sat out the final regular season game to nurse a "minor injury" along with the fact the game didn't mean much, so it was more for rest purposes. He's played in 157 of the past 158 regular season games as well as six playoff games.

"It's part of the game, every sport. It's a long season," Pietrangelo said. "Guys are going to get hurt. That's why you add depth, right? Every sport goes through it, but you nevcer want to see guys get injured or sit out. I'm lucky enough to play in every one."

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The Blues begin their final stretch of six games in 10 days to end the season. They currently sit four points behind Nashville for first place in the Central Division but only one ahead of Chicago for second and four ahead of Minnesota.

"There's no better way to get back to our game than to play six in 10," Pietrangelo said. "Hopefully, we start building something. We're playing every other day. It's a good opportunity to start building confidence again."

The Blues leave after the game for Dallas, where they'll face the Stars on Friday night and end the regular season road schedule Sunday night against the Blackhawks. 

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The Blues' probable lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie

Dmitrij Jaskin-David Backes-Patrik Berglund

Ty Rattie-Jori Lehtera-Olli Jokinen

Steve Ott-Marcel Goc-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Kevin Shattenkirk-Zbynek Michalek

Barret Jackman-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches includes Carl Gunnarsson, Chris Porter and Chris Butler. Alexander Steen (lower body) and Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body) are day-to-day and will not play tonight.

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The Flames' probable lineup:

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler

Lance Bouma-Mikael Backlund-David Jones

Mason Raymond-Marcus Granlund-Joe Colborne

Brandon Bollig-Matt Stajan-Drew Shore

Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman

Deryk Engelland-TJ Brodie

Raphael Diaz-David Schlemko

Jonas Hiller will start in goal. Karri Ramo will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches will be Michael Ferlund, Josh Jooris and Corey Potter. Mark Giordano (biceps), Paul Byron (lower body) and Ladislav Smid (upper body) are out with injuries.

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