By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Joel Edmundson's return to the lineup for the first time in 13 games for the Blues (14-7-4) today against the Montreal Canadiens (17-6-2) couldn't have been timed any better.
Edmundson was activated off injured-reserve in time to play for the first time since Nov. 6 and the Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured-reserve.
Bortuzzo will be re-evaluated in six weeks after he was injured during the Blues' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
"The timing couldn't be better, unfortunately for 'Borts,' but fortunately for us because he was playing well when he got hurt," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a big help for us because we go back to lefty-righty.
"You feel for 'Borts' because that's a long couple injuries that he's had and it's a tough go for him; he was playing really well and helping us. But right now, we're in good shape. We've got our six that we started with that we played most of the time with, so we're back on schedule there."
It's the second time Bortuzzo has sustained what is suspected to be a knee injury. He was injured Oct. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings and missed 10 games only to return and play seven of the best games he's played with the Blues before being hurt.
Bortuzzo, in 11 games, leads the Blues in plus-minus at plus-6, and Hitchcock had a very interesting take on this injury.
"I think it's something we've got to look at," Hitchcock said. "It's a similar injury on both sides of the lower body, it's something we have to look at to help 'Borts.' He's a very valuable guy on our team and we need him healthy, but when you have the same injury on both sides, we have to look why it's happening physically and then help him through it so it doesn't happen again. It's something we have to look at and see if we can help him through it."
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Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko received his award for being named the Missouri Athletic Club's Sports Personality of the Year.
Tarasenko is the seventh Blues player to win the award behind Mike Liut (1981), Brett Hull (1990), Curtis Joseph (1993), Brendan Shanahan (1995), Al MacInnis (1999) and T.J. Oshie (2014).
"It was a fun time for us and it means a lot," Tarasenko said. "I say a little speech yesterday. But it was yesterday. Today is a new day and we have a tough game coming, so no time to celebrate.
"It shows me how much people care about hockey and the other sports in St. Louis, so it was a really great time yesterday."
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The Blues will not see two of the Canadiens' top players tonight.
Top-line center Alex Galchenyuk is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury sustained against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, and goalie Carey Price will get a rare night off for backup Al Montoya, who will make his first start since Nov. 18.
Montoya is 3-3-1 with a 3.13 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
"One of the things we all agreed on before we left Montreal, we wanted to play 'Monty' for one game and that was the game that we pictured," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, whose team is 4-5-1 the past 10 games after starting the season 13-1-1. "We followed our plan. It's an important game for the team. It's a five-game road trip and we we all want to come back to Montreal with a positive record."
Galchenyuk leads the Canadiens in goals (nine) and points (23).
"Yeah, he's kind of Russian speaking guy," Tarasenko said of Galchenyuk. "I think all Russians follow each other. I don't know what kind of injury, but I hope he heals faster."
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Goalie Jake Allen will start tonight; he is 7-0-0 his past seven starts and allowed 16 goals and is 9-0-2 at home.
The Blues conclude a five-game homestand; they are 9-0-3 the past 12 home games and 11-1-3 overall at Scottrade Center.
St. Louis is 7-1-1 their past nine games after starting the season 7-6-3.
"It's a good test everywhere," Hitchcock said. "I think it's a good individual test for everybody. They're one of the top teams in the league for a reason. They're really well-coached, they play a really good style, a style when you watch, you appreciate and now we've got to find a way to beat that style. They use their speed to check and that's hard to play against, because when you have that attitude that you're willing to hunt down pucks and play the way they are, there's no breathing space. So you really have to control your frustration when you play Montreal because they can get on you and they can stay on you and they're pretty relentless."
Therrien is equally as respectful of facing the Blues.
"Tonight's game won't be any different than what we saw so far on this trip," Therrien said. "We're playing against a team, first of all, they're well-structured, this is a good hockey team, it is a good challenge, they play really well at home, but for us, we need to focus on our game."
Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester needs one assist for 300 in his career.
Forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who was sick and missed practice Monday, skated during an optional and will play tonight.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Robby Fabbri-Paul Stastny-David Perron
Jaden Schwartz-Alexander Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund-Jori Lehtera-Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko
Jake Allen will start in goal; Carter Hutton will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Nail Yakupov and Ty Rattie. Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) will miss at least six weeks.
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The Canadiens' projected lineup
Max Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Alexander Radulov
Andrew Shaw-Torrey Mitchell-Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen-Tomas Plekanec-Paul Byron
Daniel Carr-Phillip Danault-Brian Flynn
Alexei Emelin-Shea Weber
Andrei Markov-Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio-Greg Pateryn
Al Montoya will start in goal; Carey Price will be the backup.
Zach Redmond is the healthy scratch. Alex Galchenyuk (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (neck) and Charles Hudon (sternum) are out.