Saturday, February 4, 2017

(2-4-17) Penguins-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues' 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday was a good start for the Mike Yeo era.

Yeo, who took over Wednesday when the team fired Ken Hitchcock, and the Blues (25-21-5) not must look for that consistency of winning that has been so elusive this season.

The Blues, who host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins (32-13-5) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), have won back-to-back games only once since Dec. 1.

"Tonight's a big one for us against a real good opponent," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "It's going to give us a little bit of a test and boost here moving forward."

The Blues defeated the Penguins (who played Friday night in a 4-3 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets) 3-0 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 24 and would like a repeat performance.

"We looked at what we did in that game and that's the template for what we want to do tonight," Pietrangelo said. "You've got to know that they're looking at that game, looking at what we did to them and trying to figure out a way to get through that. Both teams are putting the effort into the scouting side of things to try and figure the other side out, but I think if we stick to what we want to do with their personnel, I think it will give us success again. ... We managed the puck real well. When you're playing against some pretty good offensive players, they want to create turnovers, they want to play on the rush with their speed. I thought as a group, top down, we managed the puck, didn't give them any opportunities to create odd-man rushes and when we did, we took care of each other, took care of our goalie (Carter Hutton, who made 34 saves) in our end."

Yeo said he remembers the Blues playing a physical game, and that was a key to success against the Penguins.

"I thought our physicality in the game was very noticeable," Yeo said. "We got on their defensemen and as far as on the forecheck, as far as opportunities to finish checks and be aggressive down in the offensive zone, when you play against a team like Pittsburgh and the skill they have, obviously you have to manage the puck the right way." 

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Yeo will stay with the same lineup tonight, one that had success Thursday and not try to overload the players with too much change and information as he settles into the new job.

That includes Jake Allen, who made 26 saves Thursday, in goal tonight.

So it will be the same lineup, with defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Dmitrij Jaskin being the healthy scratches.

"We try to be very careful as far as how we changed," Yeo said. "You just can't give the players too much right now. You can't overwhelm them. All kinds of details and all kinds of things you'd like to see in the game, and the next thing you know they're all paralyzed because they're thinking too much. 

"With 'Hitch' here, and I've said this a lot the last couple days, there was a really good plan in place. There's a template that we knew we could go by that could be successful, so we're not straying too far from that. We're trying to add a couple things that we think could maybe enhance our game a little bit more on top of that as well."

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Pietrangelo has fine points (one goal, four assists) the past two games. 

Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko has a three-game point streak (three goals, one assists). 

Defenseman Colton Parayko is coming off a three-point game (one goal, two assists) Thursday. 

Linemates Paul Stastny (four goals, four assists) and Alexander Steen (five goals, four assists) have combined for 17 points the past seven games. Steen has 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) the past 16 games.

The Blues are not expected to see Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who's been out since injuring a knee against the Blues in that Jan. 24 game. 

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Patrik Berglund-Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall-Ivan Barbashev-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 Robert Bortuzzo and Dmitrij Jaskin. Kyle Brodziak (foot) is on injured-reserve.

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The Penguins' projected lineup:

Matt Cullen-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist

Jake Guentzel-Nick Bonino-Phil Kessel

Carl Hagelin-Carter Rowney-Bryan Rust

Chris Kunitz-Eric Fehr-Scott Wilson

Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang

Ian Cole-Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta-Trevor Daley

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal; Matt Murray will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches are expected to be Tom Kuhnhackl and Chad Ruhwedel. Evgeni Malkin (knee) and Conor Sheary (upper body) are out.

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