Saturday, April 2, 2016


Hitchcock tinkers with lines; injured skaters Fabbri, 
Bouwmeester, Gunnarsson, Ott skate; Brouwer OK; Allen to start Sunday

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues, on the heels of a 6-5 loss to the Boston Bruins at home Friday, had a little bit of a different look at practice on Saturday.

Alexander Steen was at left wing with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz was skating with Patrik Berglund and David Backes, but coach Ken Hitchcock said it's a good possibility that Schwartz will play in Robby Fabbri's spot with Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer and Dmitrij Jaskin will jump in with Backes and Berglund, perhaps leaving Magnus Paajarvi out Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche (7 p.m.; NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM).

"We'll use somebody else tomorrow, whether it's 'Schwartzy' or whatever, we'll use somebody there," Hitchcock said of playing with Stastny and Brouwer, the line producing the most points lately. "We'll probably lean on 'Schwartzy' and probably put the big line back together with Berglund, Jaskin and Backes, we'll probably go back to that."

The lines Saturday were a bit different and Hitchcock said not to go of that 

"We're trying to get some tempo with some people and stuff like that and go from there," Hitchcock said.

* Fabbri, Bouwmeester, Gunnarsson, Ott all skate, getting closer -- The good news out of practice Saturday is that Fabbri, who missed Friday after sustaining a lower-body Tuesday against the Avalanche, skated with the team along with defensemen Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) and Carl Gunnarsson (lower body) and forward Steve Ott, who continues to recover from the hamstring tears he sustained Dec. 5.

"None are going to play in Colorado, but it's a good sign that they were able to participate right til the end," Hitchcock said. "It almost looked like tryouts, we had so many guys out on the ice, which was a real good sign."

Gunnarsson did travel to the game Sunday, so there's an outside chance he could play. 

As for Monday at home against Arizona, none have been ruled out.

"I don't know," Hitchcock said. "Until Ray (Barile) or those guys decide, it's kind of just status quo right now."

* Brouwer misses practice -- The Blues had 24 of their 25 skaters on the ice Saturday, and the only one to miss was Brouwer, who has been hot like his linemates with 11 points the past 11 games.

Brouwer will play Sunday.

"He's fine," Hitchcock said. "Day off."

* Allen to start Sunday -- Goalie Jake Allen, who came on in relief of Brian Elliott Friday and played the third period, will get the start against the fading Avalanche, who could be eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention with a regulation loss and Minnesota Wild win.

Brian Elliott did not make the trip to Denver to get the rest Sunday night instead of traveling home for a likely start against Arizona on Monday. Anders Nilsson, like he did last week at Washington, will be the backup for Allen on Sunday.

Elliott allowed five goals on 23 shots in the loss to the Bruins, but Allen took the loss for allowing the sixth goal, which was the game-winner.

"I think they capitalized on the opportunities they had," Elliott said of the Bruins. "It's the type of game where they're playing for their lives. We knew that. Obviously we scored first ad they came back. If I stop that breakaway, maybe it's a different game altogether. You're going to have types of games like that. It still ended up being a one-goal game and you have to hang your hat on that. Guys did a really good job responding and coming back in the third period.

"It's easy to get hung up on something like this at the end of the year, but you have to look at the whole body of work, not worry and don't panic, trust our game, trust our process of getting ready for the big dance."

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