Tuesday, October 25, 2016

(10-25-16) Flames-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Carter Hutton wants to pick up where he left off.

Maybe not the volume of shots he faced or the fact that the Blues were playing three players short before holding off a furious New York Rangers push in the third period of a 3-2 Blues victory, but Hutton, who will get the start today when the Blues get a rematch with the Calgary Flames (7 p.m.; FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), hopes to build off a 33-save performance and a solid outing.

"Yeah definitely. Just hope to turn that period into every period," Hutton said. "Just like I've said before, when I get a chance to play, just go out and compete and battle. I've got a good team in front of me to help me out."

Hutton last played 10 days ago, but coach Ken Hitchcock wants to keep the player he called one of the stories of training camp involved for the Blues, who are off to a solid 4-1-1 start after winning 6-4 in Calgary.

"I think it's like any other goalie that's playing a third of the games or a quarter of the games," Hitchcock said. "You've got to get them in a rhythm and you've got to get them in a consistent rhythm and that's what we want to do. We don't want to go too long without having him play, and he helps us win. 

"If he's going to play like he did the last game, that's outstanding. It gives us a chance to win every night. He just needs to know from a training standpoint to get in a consistent rhythm throughout the year. We've promised him that we're going to continue to follow that."

Hutton, who signed a two-year, $2.25 million contract to be Jake Allen's backup, knows his role.

"I knew what I was getting myself into and that was a big reason why I came here and I think we're showing it all the time," Hutton said. "Practice, just working hard in practice. Stay fresh, see a lot of pucks. I like to do a lot of one-timers. I think that's like something where jumping off guys' sticks, it keeps your eyes really tracking the puck well. Fitness-wise in the gym, just doing things to stay strong and stay ready."

But the fact that Hutton can pick up where perhaps Brian Elliott, who will start for the Flames tonight, left off to where he can push Allen and vice versa makes for good, healthy competition.

"We're really good friends," Hutton said. "We established that right away that we get along and we've had fun and that's important, but at the same time, we need to push each other. It's a position where you need guys ... everyone wants to play. At the same time, you've got to push each other to be better and keep each other honest. I think we both do a good job of that. I think that will just generate more team success through individual success."

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After a 32-save performance and picking up his first win in a Calgary uniform, Flames coach Glen Gulutzan will turn back to 'Moose.' 

Elliott, who didn't get the start when the Blues were in Calgary on Saturday, was a perfect 7-for-7 in the shootout and helped the Flames down the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.

Also, right wing Troy Brouwer, who spent one season with the Blues after being acquired in a trade with the Washington Capitals for T.J. Oshie, will make his return to Scottrade Center tonight for the first time. 

Brouwer did play Saturday and had an assist for the Flames.

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One player who didn't face his childhood team growing up will get the chance tonight in his hometown is Matthew Tkachuk, son of former Blues great Keith Tkachuk.

Matthew Tkachuk, the sixth pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, will be on the opposite bench and suit up for the Flames against the team he spent many childhood days running around the home locker room with younger brother Brady.

"It means a lot," Tkachuk said. "I looked at the schedule before the year and I really, really wanted to play (in this game). The fact that I'm here and being able to play at this level and play in this game is special.

"I've got a lot of friends and family, my parents and sister (Taryn) and all that. It's going to be a fun game for them I know for sure. For me, it's to just go out there and try to put on a good show for everybody that's coming, but most importantly, just help out the team.

"I've skated on this ice a lot more than a lot of people have. To be back here, it's definitely cool."

Tkachuk, who will have many in attendance, including his mother Chantal and former AAA Blues coach Jordan Janes in attendance, is trying to downplay his return to his hometown, but it will be tough.

"I'm just not trying to think about it too much," he said. "I think it'll be pretty cool for my parents and my family to kind of see that. For me, it's just kind of take it as it comes out there and I'll just try to enjoy that.

"It's crazy. I remember watching warmups here whenever my dad played at home. Just itching to watch some NHL hockey and the fact that I'm here and there's kids that are watching me and stuff like that is pretty cool.

"I'm going to be honest, I never really envisioned myself on the other side of the rink. I think tonight will be something I haven't really thought of in depth recently. I just wanted to get to this point and if I got to this point, try to do everything I can to be successful."

Tkachuk, a healthy scratch the past two games, will soak it all in at gametime.

"It's going to be crazy," he said. "I think it's going to have to take a couple minutes to start, maybe the warmups, just to settle in that this is happening. I have a feeling that I'm going to catch myself throughout the game being like, 'Wow, this is really happening right now.'

"... I'm trying to not look at my phone too much today."

- - -

The Blues begin a three-game homestand trying to stay atop the Central Division standings. They enter the night two points ahead of Minnesota and Chicago.

And playing the Flames three days after facing them already, Hitchcock wants to see the Blues build off some of the positives from the Western Canada trip.

"There's lots of familiar ground," Hitchcock said. "Played well in Calgary, made mistakes late in the game, clean that up, and hopefully get the same type of energy and the same type of disposition in the game. Keep building our game. There's a lot of good positives in our game right now. We want to just keep building it.

"... The points are the same but we want to be able to play 60 minutes. We've found ways to win, want to be a little better than we were the last home game. We can play better than that. First game back off a road trip, you want to see your energy come back early in the game. It's not your skill energy, it's your checking energy. That's what we want to see. We had a good session yesterday. It put us in a good spot mentally and hopefully we can carry it into the start today. It's just establishing our game earlier so the other team doesn't get to dictate. When we do that we're effective but when the other team gets to dictate, then you're chasing it, and that's what we want to do, not chase the game."

- - -

Forward Alexander Steen will play in his 500th game with the Blues tonight.

Steen has 362 of his 488 career points since joining the franchise when he was acquired along with Carlo Colaiacovo from the Toronto Maple Leafs Nov. 24, 2008 for Lee Stempniak.

"He's a good pro. He's a pro," Hitchcock said of Steen. "He's consistent in his approach to the game, he's consistent in his focus, even when he's not scoring he's as dependable as heck. He's always doing the little things that are contagious throughout the group and when you have a player like that on your team, it feeds right through the lineup, so his attention to detail forces other people to play attention also. It really helps us win hockey games because he's not going to be one of these guys that's going to lead the National Hockey League in points, but he really leads you in winning areas of the game that really mater, whether it's killing a penalty at the right time or scoring a big power play goal, or clearing the zone when the game is on the line, he does all the things that help you win at the end of the night."

- - -

Dmitrij Jaskin, who sat out Monday's practice with a lower-body injury, will stay in the lineup tonight, and center Jori Lehtera, who is on injured-reserve with an upper-body injury, skated for a second day in a row on his own and could rejoin practice Wednesday.

"He skated full today, 50 mintues, and if everything goes well, he's looking to join us tomorrow," Hitchcock said of Lehtera.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Robby Fabbri-Paul Stastny-Alexander Steen

David Perron-Jaden Schwartz-Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin-Patrik Berglund-Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Carter Hutton will start in goal. Jake Allen will be the backup.

The healthy scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Ty Rattie and Magnus Paajarvi. Jori Lehtera (upper body) is day to day. 

- - -

The Flames' projected lineup:

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Alex Chiasson

Kris Versteeg-Sam Bennett-Troy Brouwer

Lance Bouma-Mikael Backlund-Michael Frolik

Micheal Ferland-Matt Stajan-Matthew Tkachuk

Mark Giordano-Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie-Deryk Engelland

Nicklas Grossman-Dougie Hamilton

Brian Elliott will get the start in goal after making 32 saves and going 7-for-7 in the shootout against Chicago on Monday. Chad Johnson will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Freddie Hamilton, Jyrki Jokipakka and Brett Kulak. Ladislav Smid (neck) is out.

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