Tuesday, January 12, 2016

(1-12-16) Devils-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Paul Stastny gave it a shot but isn't quite ready.

The Blues' center took part in the optional morning skate on Tuesday, but Stastny will not play against the New Jersey Devils today (7 p.m. on FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Stastny, who has an upper-body injury stemming from being hit with a deflected puck on his left cheek in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks last Friday, is wearing a full face cage and will continue to do so at least through the all-star break. 

Stastny, who has three goals and 18 points in 28 games this season, was considered day-to-day until coach Ken Hitchcock called him week-to-week Tuesday morning.

"Every day's gotten a little better," Stastny said. "Still like a little foggy, just little things in my head here and there. I'm not going to risk anything until my head's cleared up. If everything goes well, practice tomorrow, play Thursday but it's one of those things we'll take it day by day.

"It felt good (Tuesday). There's a couple times when I got the heart rate up, you start feeling a little headache and you start feeling a little foggy. The past thing I want to do is be playing out here at full speed and not be able to make decisions like I normally can and hurt myself and more importantly, hurt the team."

Hitchcock erred on the side of caution regarding Stastny being ready Thursday.

"I think we've got to wait on that," Hitchcock said. "It was hurting a little bit today, so we'll see. Rather than all of these 'day to day to day to day,' I'm going to wear you guys out and add an extra column in the newspaper to just keep dealing with this. I would rather let (general manager Doug Armstrong) deal with this when he gets back, some of the term on some of these guys, and just back it off until they come back. We'll see where 'Stas' is at. Hopefully he is playing Thursday, but I'd rather pulling him back. He didn't feel great after the skate."

Along with Stastny, goalie Jake Allen (lower body) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) were injured Friday, and then the Blues lost defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) and left wing Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) on Saturday at the Los Angeles Kings.

The good news on Stastny is he doesn't have a concussion and gives the team a good outlook on when he can return. He didn't have to go through concussion protocol.

"Not concussion. I felt fine after," Stastny said. "It's certain spots from where I got hit. It's more I got hit in the cheek and it's a muscle in certain spots when I'm chewing and stuff like that. That's where it really aches. I can always tell in the morning when I wake up just doing certain things and how I feel feels and it feels better every time. I got a workout yesterday, skate today. Hopefully tonight, tomorrow morning goes well and be ready for Thursday."

Stastny, who said he didn't displace any bones in the cheek area, won't have any issues dealing with wearing a full face cage. 

Hitchcock is just glad the injury wasn't any worse.

"It could have been way worse ... it could have been way worse," Hitchcock said. "Lucky. You're looking at getting a puck there, as painful as it is, it's the best-case scenario. The absolute best-case scenario happened to him. There were five other scenarios that could have happened to him that we would have really been long term on this."

- - -

Right wing Ty Rattie and defenseman Chris Butler, both recalled from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League in light of the slew of injuries, both will play tonight against the Devils.

Butler played in two games this season with the Blues before being sent to the AHL.

"Butler, I think everybody in this rink is comfortable with in this room," Butler said. "Everyone's comfortable with Butler because he plays the game that fits for us. He would have been on the team had it not been for the good play of those two younger guys. Rattie, he's got to look at this as a terrific opportunity that he's going to take advantage of. Right wing is where we've missed a couple guys with Paajarvi going down 'Rats' has got to take advantage of this opportunity, because it's a great one.

"What we need them to do is just keep up. Expecting them to contribute and expecting them to come through and save us, we don't need saving right now. We've got  great spirit going on right now, we've got great camaraderie, guys are really battling for each other. It's not the cleanest game that's out there right now, but we're getting points every night and that's what matters. All they've got to do is fit in and keep up. I think the problems you get into is when they can't keep up, but we know both of these guys at their top game, they can play in the league and they can help us."

Rattie played five games and has two assists this season.

"It's exciting," Rattie said. "Obviously any time you get to play in the NHL, it's a lifetime opportunity. I'm happy to be here and I'm looking forward to it. 

"I was just trying to be consistent (in Chicago), be the consistent player and trying to get back up here as quick as I can. ... That's the thing I have to prove. Whenever I go down, I've got to work on my consistency and bring my game, game in and game out. I've got to come up here and I've got to play that consistent game, play that two-way game. Hopefully I can prove that going forward. Obviously this is a Cup-contending team and it's a very good roster. I'm going to do anything I can to help the team win. Whatever Hitch and the coaches ask, I'm going to do."

Butler is a veteran with 384 games of NHL experience and being told to go to the AHL is not easy.

"It's frustrating, but you kind of take it one day at a time," Butler said. "You try not to think about, 'What happens here, what could happen.' Unfortunately for some of the guys here, there have been some injuries. But I knew that being part of this group, you need a lot of depth to go deep in the season. We're at about the halfway point here, but it seems like with this team, it's been injuries the whole season. For me, I still have a tremendous passion for the game. I still love competing. That part has never left. That's kind of what I rely on every day.

"It's a comfortable group to be around. They make it easy, they keep things light, they make it fun. Guys do a good job of setting a good example. It's easy to kind of slide in and jump into the fold."

- - -

Now that Allen is down for an unknown period of time, Brian Elliott assumes his role as the No. 1 goalie for the umpteenth time.

It seems every season since Elliott has been in the Blues organization, he takes a step back to whoever is cast as "the guy," whether it be Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Miller and now Allen, who assumed the No. 1 role this season.

Elliott, who is 6-4-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .919 save percentage this season, will get the bulk, if not all the starts while Jordan Binnington serves as the backup and Elliott is ready.

"For sure. That's what you practice for," Elliott said. "That's why you become a goalie so you can be out there all the time. Every time you're out there, just try to make those saves for the guys and see what happens on the other side, too.

"It's usually how it goes, but it can go the other direction pretty easily. Sticking to that mindset and game plan of togetherness and everybody as a group I think that's what's going to be key in these next coming games. We've got a lot of games right before the all-star break. Try to get as many points as tucked away as possible and then try to see how many guys will get back after that."

It's been the strong suit for the Blues, having two reliable guys that can step in between the pipes and get the job done.

"There's two great options back there," captain David Backes said. "Jake was playing really well; he kind of had the reigns for a little while, but with the injury, it goes to 'Moose,' but he's been there before, he's played great hockey for us. We believe in him. That's a great feeling to have another guy that you can lean on and you know that can win every night and give you a great chance to win."

Hitchcock agreed.

"He's such a competitive guy," Hitchcock said of Elliott. "I think it's a good fit for us right now. When you see him compete every day, practice games or whatever, even pregame skates, guys rally around that. Especially when you're down a notch roster-wise, guys rally around little things around that. I thought he rallied us in L.A. and the guys rallied around him. It was nice to see; I think we're going to get that. I think he's really looking forward to carrying the ball here. I'm really confident that he's going to play awful well every night and gives us a chance to win."

- - -

Speaking of Binnington, who has yet to see action in an NHL regular season game yet, he's here in whatever capacity the Blues ask of him.

Binnington, the Blues' third round pick in 2011, is 8-6-2 with a 2.57 GAA and .910 save percentage with the Wolves this season.

"I was excited when I found out," Binnington said of the recall. "It's a great team up here and a great opportunity. I'm just going to work hard day in and day out and see were it goes. 

"(Elliott's) a great goalie and I get to watch him play and practice. It's exciting for me. Be there for support. If they need me, be ready."

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Robby Fabbri-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Scottie Upshall-Alexander Steen-Troy Brouwer

Patrik Berglund-David Backes-Ty Rattie

Dmitrij Jaskin-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Kevin Shattenkirk-Alex Pietrangelo

Chris Butler-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott will start in goal. Jordan Binnington will be the backup.

There are no healthy scratches. Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Steve Ott (hamstring), Paul Stastny (upper body), Jay Bouwmeester (upper body), Jake Allen (lower body), Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) and Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) are out with injuries.

- - -

The Devils' probable lineup:

Sergey Kalinin-Travis Zajac-Kyle Palmieri

Joseph Blandisi-Adam Henrique-Lee Stempniak

Tyler Kennedy-Jim O'Brien-Paul Thompson

Bobby Farnham-Stephen Gionta-Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene-Adam Larsson

Jon Merrill-Damon Severson

Marc-Andre Gragnani-David Schlemko

Keith Kinkaid will start in goal. Cory Schneider will be the backup.

Stefan Matteau and Eric Gelinas will be healthy scratches. Patrik Elias (knee), Jacob Josefson (lower body), Mike Cammalleri (upper body), Tuomo Ruutu (lower body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body) and John Moore (lower body) are out with injuries.

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