Wednesday, November 4, 2015

(11-4-15) Blues-Blackhawks Gameday Lineup

CHICAGO -- It was supposed to be a quick, 45-minute flight into Chicago and in their hotel rooms in plenty of time to get some rest.

That wasn't the case for the Blues, who didn't arrive to their hotel until 4 a.m.

Because of heavy fog in the area, the Blues' flight was diverted to Milwaukee, when they arrived after 1 a.m. following a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at home on Tuesday, where they then had to make the 90-minute drive.

So instead of having a morning skate, which would have been optional anyway, here was no skate for the Blues aside from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and PTO forwards Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus.

The Blues (8-3-1) will be facing their Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks (7-5-0) for the first time this season on Wednesday "Rivalry Night" (7 p.m. on NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM).

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Blues right wing Ryan Reaves was fined by the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for the elbowing incident on the Kings' Anze Kopitar on Tuesday.

The incident occurred at 11:56 of the first period, a play in which Kopitar came up from behind Reaves and took an elbow to the head. Kopitar finished the first but did not return for the final two periods.

Reaves was fined $3,024.19, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for roughing

The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

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The Blues recalled forward Magnus Paajarvi from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, the team announced on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Paajarvi, who signed a one-year, one-way contract worth $700,000 in the summer, will play against the Blackhawks tonight.

Paajarvi was assigned to the Wolves towards the end of training camp after not making the big club. He has four goals and three assists in seven games with the Wolves.

It'a another chance to prove himself to the club that traded David Perron to Edmonton to get him in 2013.

"I feel like I can play; I've shown it. I've done it before," said Paajarvi, who got the call Tuesday that he would be coming up. "I feel like I can, and it's just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunity.

"Big game against a great team. They're really good in this building as well. It's going to be fun. It's all about taking advantage of the opportunity, and this is a real opportunity here.
If Paajarvi plays, since there was no morning skate, it's unknown which forward will sit out."

Paajarvi continues to have the positive attitude necessary after being sent back to the minors once again. He understands there's things in his game that can improve. It's up to him to fulfill those obligations.

"You try to break down almost to molecules when things are not going well and to see now what you're doing right," Paajarvi said. "I wish it was only one thing. It's a couple things, I think. It's a matter of timing, too, I think. If I get into the right timing, I can do this stuff and I'll be good.

"It's a whole different level playing in the AHL compared to the NHL, but it feels good down there. I've felt good this year. When I have the chance, I want to score."

The Blues are adding Paajarvi to the lineup tonight because of the speed element the Blackhawks have and hope to have him offset some of it.

"There's a lot of speed in this game and that's my strength," Paajarvi said. "I'm definitely going to try and use it tonight and try to create space for me and my teammates." 

Also, Scott Gomez, who was a healthy scratch Tuesday, could come back in, which would put another forward in the press box.

As for Shattenkirk, he skated hard with assistant coach Kirk Muller in a pregame skate but he will miss a 10th consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

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The Blues enter tonight's game looking to end a futile streak on the power play.

After going 0-for-4 against the Kings, the Blues have not scored in their past 21 opportunities in six games, and they're 1-for-33 going to Oct. 15 at Edmonton, or nine games.

It's allowing the opposition to take risks, and in turn, the Blues have taken penalties that have negated power plays or they've simply done little to nothing in them.

"I've been here for 10 years and it's no secret, it's shots, traffic, rebounds and dirty goals," captain David Backes said. "I just think we're looking a little too pretty and we've got to get back to hammering the puck and get some rebounds, taking the goalie's eyes away. We're not getting those opportunities, we're not getting to that point in the game where you shoot it enough and then you can make some cute plays because they're worried about the shot first. We'll have to address that and play a great game (tonight) in Chicago to get two points out of this back-to-back."

The Blues seem to want to make the extra play, or extra pass, instead of funneling pucks to the net.

Teams are applying pressure on the point men and in turn, it's throwing their execution out of whack.

"I think a lot of teams nowadays are trying to pressure PK's when they have the opportunity. We're no different," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "We've just got to recognize that and find ways to simplify that and get pucks towards the net. ... Dumb it down. Get a couple bounces here and there and then go back to work. Shots and opportunities down low are going to open up the high plays for our half board guys and our skill guys."

So what can be done better?

"Simplify," Pietrangelo said. "We've just got to get pucks to the net. We've got some big bodies that can do some work down low. We've got to be more willing to get into the dirty areas and that'll open up the space later."

Coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game Tuesday that it comes down to getting pucks to the net.

"It's a combination for me of not moving your feet, number one. Number two is we're not making them turn and face the goalie as much as we've done in the past," Hitchcock said. "We're trying to make plays. 

"You take a look at the penalty that (Colton) Parayko took, we needed to attack the goalie. It was just one and oh and we tried to pass through an area that's pretty high risk. We're just playing with way to much risk on the power play right now."

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Teammates were marveling after the game about Jake Allen's performance against the Kings.

Allen stopped 31 of 33 shots and did his best to keep the Blues in the contest, including making an acrobatic save on Kopitar in the first period (

"Jake was really good tonight again," Pietrangelo said. "He deserves better. He plays that well, we've got to find a way  to pick him up and win a game for him. He's been standing on his head here the last week."

Backes added, "He's been great. He was great tonight. He keeps us in there, gives us a chance. A 3-on-1 there at the end to make it 2-0. He deserves a better performance in front of him with the job he's been doing.

"We'll play (tonight), put this behind us like we have the wins and go try for another two points tomorrow."

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The Blues' probable lineup (updated through pregame warmups):

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-David Backes-Scottie Upshall

Magnus Paajarvi-Scott Gomez-Troy Brouwer

Steve Ott-Kyle Brodziak-Ty Rattie

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Chris Butler

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

Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Paul Stastny (foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder) are out with injuries. Healthy scratches are Dmitrij Jaskin, Ryan Reaves and Robert Bortuzzo.

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The Blackhawks' probable lineup:

Artemi Panarin-Jonathan Toews-Ryan Garbutt

Teuvo Teravainen-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Marko Dano-Tanner Kero-Ryan Hartman

Andrew Desjardins-Marcus Kruger-Andrew Shaw

Viktor Svedberg-Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor Daley-Erik Gustafsson

Corey Crawford will start in goal. Scott Darling will be the backup.

Marian Hossa (lower body), Duncan Keith (knee) and Michael Rozsival (ankle) are out with injuries. Healthy scratches will be David Rundblad and Viktor Tikhonov.

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