Monday, December 21, 2015

(12-21-15) Blues-Flyers Gameday Lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- Magnus Paajarvi doesn't tweet much. In fact, he only has 452 of them on his account of nearly 45,000 followers.

But No. 452 has the most meaning that will give him the greatest perspective on not only the way he feels about hockey but life in general.

Paajarvi had just received a phone call from his father, Gunnar Svensson, a player-agent. The news: his father was cancer-free after a two-year battle with Lymph Node cancer, who is described as: pain or swelling in the area of the lymph nodes is a common symptom of cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer that starts in another part of the body and spreads to the lymph nodes is called a metastasis.

Paavarvi's tweet read: Christmas came early this year! My dad just told me that he doesn't need any more checkups and his cancer is beaten!!! #proudson

And for Paajarvi, the news was one he wanted to share with the world. He's received 1,200-plus retweets and 6,000-plus favorites.

"Absolutely. That was something I didn't expect whatsoever, and it's all been positive feedback from really people all over the world, so it's nice," Paajarvi said before the Blues (20-10-4) faced the Philadelphia Flyers (14-12-7). "It's awesome to have all those thoughts for your dad. All credit to them.

"That was something I definitely didn't expect. All the credit to my dad because he deserves everything. Obviously I didn't tweet anything about when he got the cancer or anything, but I figured I should do something for him once he got through it. When that phone call came, I had to do something, I felt like. I just asked him before. It was nice to give him something in social media at least, I feel like."

Paajarvi, who has a goal and two assists in 21 games this season, got the call from his dad two years ago and suddenly, hockey became secondary. And with good reason.

Anytime one hears the word "cancer," it could become a life-changing moment.

"It came out of the blue," Paajarvi said. "He works out five times a week. He's been a health freak all his life. It came out of the blue and it was a hard time, that's for sure. But I can't even imagine what he went through. It was a hard time and when the positive news came, it was even a bigger relief. I'm sure for him the most. It was awesome."

Gunnar Svensson, who lives in Sweden, needed what everyone dreads but know is a must to help defeat cancer: chemotherapy. He continued to life his life to the fullest, or as much as his body would allow.

"The chemo is the hard treatment and the laser treatments," Paajarvi said. "That's the time where it's the hardest time. He had to go through six and I was there for two of them, I think; the two first ones. That was huge to be there for him before I had to go back over (to North America). It was tough and he battled. I know he said to himself one day, 'I'm going to go through this. I'm going to have to grind this one out.' That's what he did and it's been positive ever since.

"Yeah. He's still an agent. He had to take some time off once he had it. Obviously you do the chemo and you have all the checkups. What was it, a week ago when the doctors said you don't have to come back; you're 100 percent? That was the best phone call I ever had of my life."

Paajarvi's had some giddeyup in his game recently, and news of his dad only enhanced the speed game he possesses.

"It was hard to play when he got the cancer, but once the news came that he's 100 percent, I stepped on toes all day; I could skate all day," Paajarvi joked. "It gives you a perspective on things. Hockey matters, but family is more important and I could skate all day."

- - -

Joel Edmundson's stint with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League was temporary, and he can only hope it's permanent.

Edmundson, who started the season with the Blues and played 23 games and had two assists, played five games with the Wolves and registered no points.

But he got back what the Blues were seeking from him that he brought to the rink early in the season: a physical edge.

There was a game in which Wolves' Corey Tropp took a big hit from the Rockford IceHogs' Jake Dowell. Edmundson stepped in and did what he needed to do to protect a teammate. That's what the Blues were seeking.

"If I need to step up for a teammate, I'll do that," Edmundson said. "I've just got to read and react. My game is based around a desire to play physical. I have no problem doing that, it's just I got away from it a bit. But I'm looking to bring it back."

"Tropp got hit. He made a breakout pass just behind the net ... it was a clean hit, but it was still big. I fought Dowell off of Rockford. The fight wasn't anything special, but I showed up and stood up for my teammate. That's what they were looking for when I went down there."

As a rookie, it can be tough to be told one needs to go down to the minors, but Edmundson took it with well intentions.

"The coaches talked to me and Doug (Armstrong) talked to me," Edmundson said. "They said I started camp and the start of the season really aggressive and physical (but) they thought I backed off that a little bit. Looking back on it, I agree with them. I went back down to Chicago and I thought I brought my physicality back. I stood up for a teammate. I feel good right now, so I'll bring it back and keep playing physical up here. It was a whirlwind couple of weeks and I'm just glad to be back.

"Just ups and downs, everyone goes through it. I think just going through camp I was playing physical and got a little too comfortable out there, and I kind of forgot what my game was for a couple of games. So, going back to Chicago, it brought me back to my basics, and that's just physicality."

Coach Ken Hitchcock said with the way Edmundson played in Chicago, it was a matter of time before he came back up.

"WIth 'Eddy,' it was a temporary move," Hitchcock said. "First to get a read on (Petteri Lindbohm, who was reassigned to the Wolves), them get 'Eddy' playing in every situation. His game obviously was real sound down there. He was playing with an edge and deserved to come up. He's going to add a lot to us and then.

"... We just want his edge. When he plays with an edge and it comes out early, he really moves the puck well, he gets up the ice well. He's a great skater, and then he plays physical early in the game. I think sometimes when you're in the NHL and a young player, you're not sure you belong all the time, you have a tendency to play more cautious. We wanted to get him back in the NHL playing reckless like he does in the AHL. He played great the last three games in Chicago and if he's going to continue at that pace, he's going to be a great asset for us."

As for Lindbohm, who played seven games with the Blues and started out well but saw his ice time reduced to under 14 minutes per game the past six games, he was a minus-5 combined in the last six games.

However, Hitchcock said if Lindbohm was going to sit, there's no need to keep him here.

"Lindy's a good player; he's a guy that can help us, but you know the rules here," Hitchcock said. "If you're not playing in here, you're playing there. Selfishly, the coaches would like to have both of them, but that's not the way it works. If you're not playing regularly, you don't become the seventh, you don't get to sit out, you've got to play all the time."

* Caron to make debut Tuesday -- Right wing Jordan Caron, also recalled Sunday with Edmundson, will make his Blues debut against the team that drafted him with the 25th pick of the 2009 NHL Draft.

Caron will play against the Boston Bruins and was called up because of the uncertainty of center Kyle Brodziak, who did not accompany the team on this two-game trip and is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury due to a skate cut sustained last Thursday against the Nashville Predators.

"With Caron, we're not sure where Brodziak's at these two games before Christmas," Hitchcock said. "We wanted to get the best player up here."

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-David Backes-Troy Brouwer

Robby Fabbri-Jori Lehtera-Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall-Scott Gomez-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

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

Robert Bortuzzo and Jordan Caron are the healthy scratches. Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Steve Ott (hamstring) are on injured-reserve; Kyle Brodziak (lower body) is day to day.

- - -

The Flyers' probable lineup:

Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Brayden Schenn

Jakub Voracek-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds

Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan White

Matt Read-Scott Laughton-R.J. Umberger

Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas

Shayne Gostisbehere-Luke Schenn

Nick Schultz-Evgeny Medvedev

Steve Mason will start in goal. Michal Neuvirth will be the backup.

Vincent Lecavalier and Brandon Manning are healthy scratches. Sam Gagner (upper body) and Mark Streit (groin) are out with injuries.

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