Tuesday, December 8, 2015

(12-8-15) Coyotes-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- A big deal was being made out of Jake Allen being pulled from Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock lifted Allen after the Leafs scored to make it 3-1, and on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, Allen was seen gesturing with his arms to make it look like he was questioning his coach as to why he was being pulled from the game.

But Allen made clear before the Blues (15-8-4) took on the Arizona Coyotes (13-13-1) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) that he knew he was going back in, and that the hand gesture was more to be on the same page that he was going back in because he didn't initially hear Hitchcock and what was said.

"I don't think it's used for a pull thing. It's used more as a timeout," Allen, who will start Tuesday, said before the game. "We've talked about it. That's the reason for it to happen. I knew what was going on. It wasn't a big deal; part of the plan.

"It's alright for me. It was OK. We knew that that's going to happen throughout the year. It's more so for the team to have a breather to take me out, it takes another minute for Ells to get in and gives the guys a chance to regroup and I know I'm going right back in. It's not a big deal."

Hitchcock, who understands the time outs are key to keep, was on that same page but knows goalies don't like coming out.

"I don't think they're OK with it," Hitchcock said. "I don't think so, but I'm not wasting (a time out) until I need it. I don't want to hurt the team on a big event and a big goal, and it would have been very interesting because we would have had two controversial calls in the third period had the puck done into the net, we could have had two calls on both sides that would have been interesting."

Hitchcock's message to Allen, who came out for 2 minutes, 8 seconds in favor of Brian Elliott?

"Just get back in and play," he said. "Hey, you're going out, get back in and play. Nothing you can do about it."

Allen went down the hallway, blew off a little steam after giving up the goal and came back with a new piece of equipment.

"I just get a new headband and go right back out there," Allen said. "He just said make sure I knew I was going back in.

"... Timeouts are so key, especially with challenges. If you waste it, come to the last minute of the game and you need it, it's a crucial time, right? I think it's another strategic way to get a breather and give the guys a chance to regroup."

- - -

The Blues, 0-2-1 the past three games and 2-2-3 the past seven, know there's some urgency to get two points against the Coyotes, who are 0-4-0 on their five-game trip and have been outscored 20-9.

The Blues, who are 8-0-1 against Arizona the past nine games, were in a stretch of playing teams they had a combined 26-0-4 record against, including Florida, New York Islanders and Toronto before losing all three recently (0-2-1).

But the sense of urgency of fixing what ails them is important.

"I don't know that, to be honest with you; I don't really know. It's (27) games into the season," Hitchcock said of the urgency level. "I know one thing, you can't manufacture that with the players. You could talk about it all you want as a coach, but it has to be inside the locker room and I think sometimes, you need certain situations to create that sense of urgency. I think we had one of them against Toronto. You don't really know that until you play the next few games. You don't get an answer after one hockey game; you get it after a couple weeks. 

"I don't think it's an urgency to win a hockey game. It's a sense of urgency and commitment to do it the right way and to build really good minutes. I think that's what we're looking for. Regardless of the outcome tonight, we want to know at the end of the night if we've built good minutes in our game. That's what we want to do. The attention to detail and the practice yesterday were real good. I think we're starting to get the message that we can't rest because guys have come back. We can't rest on the fact that guys are back and they can save the day now. We did a really good job when everybody was out, we stayed in structure, we stayed on task, we stayed on point, and as guys have started to come back, we've kind of waited for them to do the job and got off of point. We want to get back on that."

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk feels it's not something that will be difficult to overcome.

"I definitely think it's something we need to take control of," Shattenkirk said. "I read some stuff yesterday this happens to teams and this is our time. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when we have a lot of games coming up. We need to take care of it now and fix it. It's a short fix, it's a quick one ands we have to really just get back to the things that we do so well and the things that frustrate teams.

"The reason I think it's an easy fix is because we have so many guys here who have been through it before."

Center Paul Stastny said it's all about players being on the same page.

"Guys have got to communicate with each other and just have more patience," Stastny said. "Sometimes when things aren't going in, everyone's trying to rush it a little bit.

"There's going to be games where you look tired. You just don't look into it. It happens. You're pissed off about it and then the next day you wake up, you try to forget about it and move on. ... We're fine. I know we'll be fine."

- - -

Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm will make his season debut tonight.

Lindbohm, who was recalled on Sunday from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, will be paired with Shattenkirk tonight.

"We haven't had too much time to get used to each other, but I know how he plays so it's not too hard," Shattenkirk said of Lindbohm. "I know he likes to lean down a little more than Gunny and make aggressive pinch reads. I just have to make sure I'm backing him up on those and kind of make sure he's keeping it simple and kind of let me do the other stuff. He's going to always bring a little bite and push guys around and that's always a nice thing to have."

Lindbohm, who came up and Joel Edmundson was reassigned to the Wolves, will bring a physical element to the Blues' 'D' corps.

"Simple, hard, edgy game, which is what he's known for. That's the way he plays, and he's very good at it," Hitchcock said of Lindbohm, who had two goals and seven points in 20 games in the AHL. "I'm sure he's looking at this as a great opportunity. He was very disappointed when he went down; he was not happy. He went down and did everything we wanted him to do and more and he got to be a really good player real quick. He did everything we wanted him to do and more and he got to be a really good player real quick in the American Hockey League, and now he's back here ready to play and contribute. He's really looking forward to playing here full time and not going back."

- - -

The Blues will mix and match lines again tonight in hopes of finding the right mixes, and for Hitchcock, he's moving away from his mantra of sticking with the twosomes he likes.

"That changes the dynamics. We'll see how this works," Hitchcock said. "I can't sit and hope. I'm not going to change the twosomes, but if a guy's going, he's going; if he's not, he's not and then I've just got to live in that environment until you get the players going. It's a lot easier environment when you have experience with players every game, you know what they're going to give you. ... I can't sit and hope if they're not."

- - -

Veteran left wing Steve Ott has had successful surgery on his right hamstring on Tuesday, which was was performed by Dr. Rick Wright and Dr. Matt Smith of Washington University Orthopedics.

Ott, 33, was injured during Saturday's 4-1 loss to Toronto late in the first period. He will be reevaluated in three months.

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Magnus Paajarvi-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen-David Backes-Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin-Jori Lehtera-Robby Fabbri

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Petteri Lindbohm-Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

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

Healthy scratches include Scott Gomez and Robert Bortuzzo. Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Steve Ott (hamstrings) are on injured-reserve.

- - -

The Coyotes' probable lineup:

Max Domi-Martin Hanzal-Mikkel Boedker

Tobias Rieder-Antoine Vermette-Anthony Duclair

Jordan Martinook-Brad Richardson-Kyle Chipchura

John Scott-Boyd Gordon-Steve Downie

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Michael Stone

Klas Dahlbeck-Zbynek Michalek

Nicklas Grossman-Stefan Elliott

Mike Smith will start in goal. Anders Lindback will be the backup.

St. Louis native Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone) and Shane Doan (lower body) are out with injuries. Viktor Tikhonov, Dustin Jeffrey and Connor Murphy are expected to be the scratches. Tikhonov, who was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, could make his Coyotes debut tonight.

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