Saturday, October 24, 2015

(10-24-15) Islanders-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Blues forward Jaden Schwartz joins what is becoming a list of players suddenly filling up the injury report.

The Blues announced Saturday morning that Schwartz sustained a fractured left ankle at practice Friday that required surgery to repair. He will be re-evaluated in 12 weeks.

Schwartz, who had four assists in seven games, was taking part in a warmup drill. He shot a puck and reached to get the rebound when he lost an edge and crashed into the net where goalie Brian Elliott was practicing. Schwartz threw off his left glove and was in obvious pain. He needed help off the ice from assistant coach Kirk Muller and head athletic trainer Ray Barile.

Following the injury, Schwartz was transported to the Washington University Orthopedic Center, where Dr. Matt Matava and Dr. Jeremy McCormick performed successful surgery on the ankle.

If the timeline the Blues gave is exact, Schwartz, who has four assists in seven games, will miss at the very least, 41 games.

The Blues (5-2-0) will host the New York Islanders (4-2-1) at 7 p.m. today (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Schwartz is coming off a season in which he set NHL career highs in goals (28), assists (35) and points (63).

"A little bit getting over the shock of it; I didn't think we anticipated the length of it," coach Ken Hitchcock said after the morning skate. "Today is more of a scramble day. We'll just see what we got and then we'll really buckle down here over the weekend and prepare for how we're going to manufacture our lineup so right now, it's kind of play this game as a sudden death game, probably play a little shorter bench than we wanted to and find out what looks like it sorts itself out."

The Blues recalled right wing Ty Rattie from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Friday and he will make his season debut against the Islanders.

"Long-term, if I was a player that was a three- or four-year player now, especially guys like (Dmitrij) Jaskin or Rattie ... these type of players, I would look at this as an unbelievable opportunity because they're going to absorb Jaden's minutes," Hitchcock said. "They're the guys that we're going to have to count on, where we play them and who we play them with is going to be determined here over the weekend. Today is kind of a sudden death game and the rest will sort itself out as we move forward."

"We weren't expecting so much so soon on the injury front," captain David Backes said, "but that's reality, (and) we need to move past. We talked all camp and preseason about how we like our depth and we've got different guys who are going to step in and 'Rats' gets called up. Give him a shot, we'll roll healthy bodies back in as they come along. We're going to miss those guys, still got business to take care of with the rest of the guys that are in this room."

Guys like Scottie Upshall and Scott Gomez, who were initially brought into training camp on professional tryouts and earned one-year contracts, will move forward playing prominent roles. Especially with the Blues missing Schwartz along with forwards Paul Stastny (broken foot), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Robby Fabbri (concussion).

"There's definitely opportunity to help out, fulfill more minutes," Upshall said. "At same time, 'Stas' and 'Schwartzy' are irreplaceable guys, two unbelievable players that are going to be missed. Everyone's got to pick up their game, starts (Saturday) from our leaders down to our younger guys; all have to be doing a little extra."

"One came in as the 13th and one came in as the 14th and now they're both playing top-nine," Hitchcock said of Upshall and Gomez. "Funny how things work out. You just never know in this business. I don't think anybody anticipated us absorbing these types of hits early in the season, but it happened. Thank God we've got veteran players who can come in and do the job."

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The Blues have experimented with Rattie in the past. The 32nd pick in the 2011 NHL Draft will get his first extensive and more prominent look at the NHL level starting against the Islanders.

Rattie will play on a line with veteran Gomez and Jaskin.

The Blues are also missing Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) along with the aforementioned players.

"It obviously sucks with injuries; two very good players (Schwartz and Stastny), but it's an opportunity for me to come up and prove that I can play and prove that I can stay here full time," Rattie said. "I'm excited for the opportunity and now I've got to take full advantage of it."

Rattie led the Wolves in goals (four) and points (seven) through three games. Rattie has two assists in 13 NHL games, but he's expected to remain in St. Louis for at least the next 4-5 weeks. Stastny's original time-frame was to be re-evaluated in five weeks.

"One game at a time," Rattie said. "I think I've got to prove that I can play tonight and go from there. That's my mindset, take it one day at a time and try to prove that I can be here a long time and prove that I can hopefully help out with what they're missing now.

"The puck was bouncing for me (in Chicago) and my linemates and my team was doing well. When the team does well, individuals do well. It was a good start, but Im happy to be back here and this is where I want to be and just prove that I can stay."

Hitchcock said that players like Rattie and Jaskin, in their third and/or fourth years of playing professional hockey, are ones expected to absorb the minutes Schwartz provided.

"They're both offensive players, they're both guys that are really good offensive players," Hitchcock said of Rattie and Jaskin. "We now need to put them in that role, where they were in junior (hockey), and help them along and see if they can succeed at the elements in their game that they were great at in junior. If they were first-year players, you'd be nervous. 

"It's a little bit different with Fabbri. There's still a test period that we're going to go through next week with Fabbri to see how he looks and where he fits, but these are guys that are third-year pros and it's their opportunity. I think we're just scratching the surface of what we're capable of offensively. I think there's another gear we can play at with more people involved in the offensive part of the game, but the guys that are missing now are guys that are great 200-foot players, so that's going to be the element that we have to decide over the weekend how we're going to balance this out."

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Both Shattenkirk and Fabbri took part in the morning skate and their timeline for a return continues to be geared towards Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Scottie Upshall-David Backes-Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin-Scott Gomez-Ty Rattie

Steve Ott-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

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

The healthy scratch is Chris Butler. Injuries include Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Paul Stastny (foot), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Robby Fabbri (concussion).

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The Islanders' projected lineup:

Anders Lee-John Tavares-Ryan Strome

Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo

Nikolay Kulemin-Mikhail Grabovski-Brock Nelson

Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan-Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey-Marek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss will start in goal. Jaroslav Halak will be the backup.

Steve Bernier (lower body) and Eric Boulton (lower body) are out with injuries, although Islanders coach Jack Capuano said in his media briefing prior to the game Bernier will play. Ryan Pulock, Brian Strait and Jean-Francois Berube were expected to be healthy scratches but Strait will play.

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