Friday, March 31, 2017

(3-31-17) Blues-Avalanche Gameday Lineup

DENVER -- When the Blues lace up at Pepsi Center tonight for the third time this month against the Colorado Avalanche, there will be added meaning to the game.

The Blues (42-28-6) can clinch a playoff spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by A) beating the Avalanche (20-53-3), B) get at least a point or C) the Los Angeles Kings lose at Vancouver in regulation, overtime or a shootout.

The scenarios are out there for the Blues when the puck drops at 8 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), but it's always best when your fate lies in your own hands, so if the Blues take care of business tonight, not only do they get in, but they can move three points ahead of Nashville for third place in the Central Division with a showdown with the Predators on tap Sunday afternoon at Scottrade Center.

"We've got a great opportunity here," said goalie Jake Allen, who gets the start tonight and can tie Chris Osgood for most wins by a Blues goalie in a season since 2003-04 (31). "Hopefully we take advantage of it. If we get into the playoffs, we should be pretty proud of ourselves to be honest with the way the season's gone for a lot of us and our team as a whole. Some thing that are changed, ups and downs. If we clinch (tonight), it's a big deal for us and then hopefully we can keep the train rolling and take the positive momentum to whoever we play.

"It's great to clinch, but we're still going for second, third in our division, trying to get as high up the standings as possible. You never know if it's going to pay off. You never know what's going to happen in the playoffs. We don't want to be casual going into the playoffs. We want to be playing well, we want to be playing solid."

The Blues have done well playing against teams they're supposed to beat, and tonight should be no different.

"It certainly should be," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "It's a competitive group, it's a group that really wants to get into the playoffs. We recognize the opportunity and now we just have to make sure we're prepared the right way to make sure we get it done."

The Blues have been playing playoff hockey since the beginning of March when their playoff chances were in question, but going 11-2-1 this month has changed the dynamics drastically.

"I think it's been that way for a while," defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "It's always kind of nice to get it behind you, know that you're in for sure, but it doesn't really change the way we're approaching games. 

"Since that big road trip to California and we had that big game against L.A., we've been able to keep our focus and know that we've had some games that you're supposed to win and we've done a good job with them. Tonight's kind of another one of those. You can't take these guys lightly. They've got a lot of skill and we've seen it. Obviously we've done a good job of that in these games leading up to now. I think we've been through this enough where you know now's the time of year you want to be playing good heading into the playoffs. If we can keep this going over the next couple weeks, then you're going in on the right foot.

"At the end of the day, you've just got to get in. Teams are so even. It's a different approach. Maybe it will work out well playing real meaningful games going into the playoffs and not kind of having to snap out of it a little bit."

- - -

The Blues have gone 11-1-1 in the past 13 games, and in that stretch, they're No. 1 in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 1.46 goals per game.

Allen and Carter Hutton have been huge factors with their play in goal, but the fact the Blues have stiffened up defensively as a five-man unit brings back memories of yesteryear when they were among the league leaders.

"That's been our whole turnaround really with our season," Bouwmeester said. "Earlier, we were giving up way too much. You don't want to keep looking back in the past, but we've always been a team that's been pretty good at not giving up a lot. Maybe not scoring a lot, but we've been real comfortable playing real close games and those sort of things. I think that's kind of the mentality we've got back to. The 2-1, 3-2, those sort of games. Those are the games you're going to see down the stretch and in the playoffs. We're doing a good job with it, our goalies are playing great and obviously that's a big part of it."

Yeo said he likes what he's seen, but doesn't want the Blues to deviate from that mantra going against the last-place Avalanche.

"That's a big factor. We'll get tested with that tonight," Yeo said. "The last time we were in here (a 4-2 win on March 21), I would put more of it on goaltending than our team play. That game, I thought we gave their skill a real chance to be effective and we have to do a better job of that tonight with out 1-on-1 play, in our play with the puck, in our checking game to prevent them from building speed through the neutral zone and if we do that, then we give ourselves a good chance."

- - -

On the bus ride over to the morning skate, Blues rookies Jordan Schmaltz and Ivan Barbashev were given a crash course in kids' jokes and riddles by none other than Arianna Dougan, the 11-year-old girl battling cancer who's on the trip courtesy of Vladimir Tarasenko.

Needless to say, Arianna had Schmaltz stumped.

"She grilled me a bit. I think between me and 'Barbs,' I think we were 1-for-10," Schmaltz joked. "Our batting percentage is a little low right now. 

"I might have to go buy one of those books because I (stink) right now."

Needless to say, Arianna has brought some extra motivation for the Blues to perform well and win. 

"It's Vladi's kind of thing, but yeah that was cool," Schmaltz said. "Any time you can entertain someone who's going through hard times like that, it not only brightens their day but for sure mine. It puts things in perspective.

"She's always got a smile on her face. Seems to be having a great time. If you can have a great time in a situation like that, our life isn't so bad. ... It definitely inspires you, gives you something to play for, with the playoffs and everything that's going on with that. It just maybe gives you a little extra motivation, get a couple wins for her."

- - -

The Blues will go with the same 18 skaters tonight, which means defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (lower-body injury) will sit for a second straight game after skating on Thursday.

Gunnarsson did not skate Friday.

"Just keeping him off," Yeo said. "He skated yesterday, didn't feel quite great, quite 100 percent, so we felt might as well rest him when we can."

Dmitrij Jaskin skated again and seems ready but will miss a ninth straight game.

- - -

Avalanche center Tyson Jost, the 10th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, will make his NHL debut against the Blues.

Jost will be the second player this week to make his NHL debut against the Blues after Swansea, Ill. native Clayton Keller (the seventh pick in the 2016 draft) debuted for the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. 

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Alexander Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Zach Sanford-Ivan Barbashev-Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Robert Bortuzzo-Jordan Schmaltz

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

The Blues have no healthy scratches. Paul Stastny (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Jori Lehtera (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (undisclosed) and Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body) are out with injuries.

- - -

The Avalanche's projected lineup:

Sven Andrighetto-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog-Tyson Jost-Matt Duchene 

Matt Nieto-J.T. Compher-Rene Bourque

John Mitchell-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau

Mark Barberio-Erik Johnson

Fedor Tyutin-Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin-Anton Lindholm

Calvin Pickard will start in goal; Jeremy Smith will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Joe Colborne, Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch and Mikhail Grigorenko. The Avalanche report no injuries.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Schmaltz to get another opportunity; Allen gets deserved break; Berglund's 
path to tying season best in goals; Steen, Schwartz to decide on faceoffs

DENVER -- Jordan Schmaltz will get another look for the Blues on Friday, and with the chance to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to boot.

Schmaltz, who played his third NHL game in a 3-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday, will play for the first time in back-to-back games when the Blues (42-28-6), 11-1-1 in their past 13 games, can clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference with at least a point against the Colorado Avalanche (20-53-3).

Schmaltz went a third straight game without registering a point, but coach Mike Yeo called it his best game of the three he's played.

"If we're measuring his three games, I would say that was his best game," Yeo said. "When he first came up, obviously it's a big step but even just practicing with the guys, getting a little more comfortable and used to the pace of the game. I felt like he had more pace in his game as far as how quickly he distributed the puck and how quick he was to close and defend. He looked confident. He looked like he felt like he belonged. Hopefully he can build off of that."

Schmaltz, who played alongside Robert Bortuzzo, played 14 minutes, 11 seconds and had two shots on goal and blocked two on the defensive side.

Schmaltz, the Blues' first-round pick (25th overall) in 2012, likes the Blues' system and feels it fits his style.

"Not only does it benefit my game, *but) we activate the 'D' coming out of our own end, but it helps any time you have the trackers back helping you out, helping the 'D' out once we get going north with it," Schmaltz said. "It's been fun.

"Yeah, I think so, especially tonight (playing) with the puck maybe a little more. At the same time, it's only my third game. I'm just trying to build."

And by doing that, the more Schmaltz plays, the more he can build.

"I think so, repititions, experience, but at the same time, it's up to the individual," Yeo said. "He strikes you as a kid that doesn't lack confidence, and that's a good thing. He's humble, but at the same time, he's confident in his abilities and it's translated into his play.

"I talked to him yesterday and my message was pretty simple: I just don't want you overthinking when you go out there and playing your game and being confident in it, and he did just that."

Schmaltz is getting the opportunity with Carl Gunnarsson (lower-body injury) to miss a second consecutive game, but Yeo said Schmaltz was going to play this trip no matter what.

"We had these two games circled that regardless, we were going to get him in," Yeo said. "For a while there, obviously things were very tight and the games were pretty tense. We felt we went with a bit of a veteran group and the group was going pretty good, so we wanted to keep it the same, but also in the back of our mind, we knew we wanted to get him experience and we wanted to give him an opportunity to show what he can do. So we looked at this two-game trip as an opportunity to do that. As it works out, he's in the lineup anyways, but he would have been no matter what."

* Allen gets a break -- After playing five straight and 20 of the past 25 games, Blues goalie Jake Allen gave way to backup Carter Hutton on Wednesday.

Allen's workload has been enormous, and considering how he's playing, it's no secret why.

"It was nice," Allen said after taking in the optional skate at Pepsi Center on Thursday. "I knew I wasn't going to play on Wednesday for a little while. It was nice just to get a good practice in, get a good skate in and watch the boys do their thing. 'Hutts' continues to play great for us. 

"Final push here, looking forward to pour it all in and see where we go."

But even when the Blues give Allen (30-19-4 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .914 save percentage) a night off, it's not like there's a significant drop off with Hutton, who's played superb himself.

It's a reminder of what Allen had tag-teaming with Brian Elliott the past few seasons.

"Me and 'Hutts' get along great," Allen said. "He's been great for our team, he's been a great addition. I think it's like any player. Any time you go to a different team or different organization, it's not going to happen at the drop of a hat. It's going to take a little while. We both had rough spurts throughout the year, but I think since the coaching change has been made, we both have been playing at the top of our games and giving the boys a chance and I think we both enjoy doing that. We're finding fun in the game and we're just having a good time. When he gets in there, he's working, and when I get in there, I'm working. Things are going well right now; we've got a good thing going.

"It's nice to have another partner come in and you get along with. I played against 'Hutts' a lot in the minors. He's a great guy off the ice. He's been great for our team. He's been behind (Pekka) Rinne for a while now and he knows how to perfect his role. He keeps guys light, keeps guys loose and he does that to himself, too. That's when he plays his best. When he's loose, he's light. He's having fun out there."

* Berglund matches season total for goals -- Center Patrik Berglund's 22nd goal Wednesday in the win over the Coyotes tied a career-high for a season, which he also accomplished in the 2011-12 season.

But considering Berglund had one in the first 30 games, this was the unlikeliest of occurances.

Berglund started scoring, started playing a bit of a different style and now has 21 goals the past 46 games.

"Obviously, I've been getting some good bounces," Berglund said. "I've been around the net much more and obviously helping and finding some pucks there. I think some hard work has been paying off, too. It's nice."

Berglund said he and his linemates David Perron and Patrik Berglund had a conversation Wednesday about creating more offense.

"Especially our line, we had a little meeting (Wednesday) morning because the last two games, we haven't really created a whole bunch of offense," Berglund said. "So we took a look at a few things we could do better. (Wednesday), we really did it. It helped us out, a bunch of zone time and a bunch of chances, too."

Berglund's next goal will set be a career-high for a season.

"I'll be more impressed if he breaks it," Yeo joked.

* Faceoff choices -- With Paul Stastny down with a lower-body injury and Alexander Steen moving up to play between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, it begged the question who would be the primary faceoff guy among that trio.

Well in recent games, both Steen and Schwartz shared the responsibilities. And it's done by feel rather than a coaching tactic.

"Him and 'Steener,' they go out there and it's basically on feel just as far as both guys, they're doing it by committee," Yeo said. "We leave it up to them, those two guys as far as when to decide which one takes it, which one doesn't. 'Schwartzy's been doing a pretty good job of it. I feel like 'Steener,' as he's gotten more reps, he's gotten really strong and 'Schwartzy' is surprisingly impressive in there, too."

Schwartz won six of nine draws (67 percent) on Wednesday, and Steen was on the plus side at 60 percent (nine of 15).

"It's not defined by us," Yeo said. "It's feel on their part."

* Quick notes -- Gunnarsson and Dmitrij Jaskin (upper-body injury) were among a handful or so of skaters on Thursday afternoon, but doesn't look like either will get in Friday.

Yeo said both are close, and that Jaskin, who's missed the past seven games, has been cleared to play after a collision with Bortuzzo on Los Angeles on March 13. 

Blues don't clinch, move into third in Central with 3-1 win over Coyotes

Kings win prevents St. Louis from punching ticket to Stanley 
Cup Playoffs; Hutton solid in goal, Berglund ties career-high for goals

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Blues didn't punch their ticket into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, but another win moved them up the standings, which was equally as important.

The Blues defeated the Arizona Coyotes for the third time in 18 days, this time winning 3-1 at Gila River Arena for their 11th win in 13 games (11-1-1), and although the Blues (42-28-6) didn't clinch because of the Los Angeles Kings' 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, they did move back into third place in the Central Division, one ahead of Nashville (90-89) and with the Flames' loss, should the Blues fall back into wild card contention, they would be ahead of the Flames because of having more regulation/overtime wins (41-39). The Blues and Flames are tied with 90 points each.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton (middle) makes one of his 22 saves in a 3-1
victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.

"Just focus on our job and like we said before, we want to make the playoffs, but we want to make sure that we're a good team going in," Blues coach Mike Yeo said.

So now the scenario is the Blues will clinch with any point.

"We try just to control what we can," said goalie Carter Hutton, who picked up the win Wednesday. "We can't control what L.A. does, but we can control what we do in this room. We didn't do it tonight, but we're going to go into Colorado and look to do it there."

Hutton continued his recent mastery since Mike Yeo took over as coach, winning for the fifth time in six starts and pitching a 22-save win and falling 5 minutes, 23 seconds from a fifth road shutout.

Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron scored for the Blues, with Tarasenko getting one for Arianna Dougan, the 11-year-old battling cancer but who along with her mother Lori Zucker is a guest of Tarasenko's on this two-game trip that concludes Friday in Colorado.

Berglund had a goal and an assist and matched his career high in goals for a season with 22, also set in the 2010-11 season.

"I'll be more impressed if he breaks it," Yeo said of Berglund's career-matching goals for a season. "I thought his whole line was really strong tonight. They definitely deserved to be out there and get that goal at the end of the game because they got robbed a number of times.

"Their puck possession and their play in the offensive zone was really strong, so I'm happy for them, Bergy's played really good hockey for us here for a long time. There's a lot more than just the goal-scoring that's gone on, too. Obviously he's adding a lot to our group. They were using each other well and generating a lot of zone time."

The win over the Coyotes (27-41-9) was the Blues' 11th straight against Arizona, outscoring the Coyotes 45-14, and they've earned points in 15 straight (14-0-1).

In a game reminiscent of the one played here 11 days ago, the Blues dominated the first period and shot clock (16-7 on Wednesday and 15-3 on March 18) and like 11 days ago, only led 1-0 on Berglund's 22nd the season, which matches his career high.

Colton Parayko kept a puck in right at the blue line, got it to Magnus Paajarvi, who fed Berglund in the left circle and Berglund beat Louis Domingue top shelf at 9:16 of the first period.

"Great play by 'Mags' and 'Pary' to keep that in," Berglund said. "I basically had a pretty open net to begin with. I've scored harder goals."

The Blues continued the pressure and got a quick one to begin the second on Tarasenko's team-leading 36th of the season. With Arianna watching from a private suite, Tarasenko followed up Jay Bouwmeester's shot from the point, got a rebound and beat Domingue from the low left circle 2:25 into the second for a 2-0 lead.

The Blues had a 30-13 shot advantage after two periods, but the game was still somewhat in the balance.

"I thought our first two periods were pretty good, but then we kind of stepped off the gas a little but," defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "Thankfully, 'Hutty' had our backs. All around, I thought it was a good group effort and that's the result we're going to get when we play a solid game.

"We were just bearing down, getting pucks out of our zone, getting pucks deep."

Alex Goligoski got the Coyotes on the board after a Magnus Paajarvi high sticking penalty on a shot from the left circle that somehow got through Hutton with 5:23 remaining, and Swansea, Ill. native Clayton Keller got an assist on the play for his first NHL point in his second NHL game. 

But Perron's empty-net power-play goal, his 100th goal as a member of the Blues, came with 19.8 seconds remaining on the Blues' season-high 43rd shot; their previous high was 41 here March 18.

"I thought we were really good and then I thought parts we kind of started to open up a little and started to open up," Hutton said. "When we did play our 5-on-5 hockey, I felt we dominated pretty well. They capitalized on the power play there, but same thing like the odd break, they're pretty good off the rush and I think from there, their goalie had a helluva game. It shouldn't have been 3-1, but he was really good."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko (middle) celebrates with teammates Jay Bouwmeester
and Alex Pietrangelo after scoring against Arizona on Wednesday.

The Blues peppered Domingue with 42 shots, and he stopped 40 of them.

"He was really good," Yeo said. "We generated a lot of shots, we generated a lot of opportunities, quality chances that I think could have given us an opportunity to put that game away. We didn't do it, but I think there were some parts in the game that were very good and some parts that we have to be better at."

In winning 11 of 13, the Blues have now outscored the opposition 41-19 and take their road show on to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche for the third time this month -- all at Pepsi Center.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

(3-29-17) Blues-Coyotes Gameday Lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- By taking care of their own business and a little scoreboard watching up in Alberta, the Blues (41-28-6) could solidify a position that was in question just a little over a month ago.

With a win against the Arizona Coyotes (27-40-9) today (9:30 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) and a Calgary Flames win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Blues would punch their ticket into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The only questions remaining would be where would the Blues finish and who would they open the Western Conference first round against.

"It's good motivation for us tonight to go out and play a real strong game," said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who tied a career-high with his 12th goal of the season Monday in a 4-1 win over the Coyotes. "We've talked about us playing really good hokey right now, and I think it's an opportunity for us to put ourselves in a real good spot in the standings. A lot on the line tonight. It makes for an exciting game for us."

For a while there, the Blues were teetering on the brink of being in and being on the outside looking in, but a 10-1-1 run and the Kings slipping in the standings drastically, including a 2-5-1 stretch in the past eight, puts them in grave danger of missing the playoffs again.

Also for the Blues, it's a chance to leapfrog the Nashville Predators into third place in the Central Division by a point. The Predators lost 4-1 at Boston on Tuesday and the Blues' game in hand is tonight.

"More proud after we do it. We're in a good position," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "You come into a game like this tonight and we have a chance to clinch. We can do our part, we need somebody else to do their part, but I just think we've got a chance, we've got an opportunity here down the stretch. 

"We've said our goal, there's two parts two it. The first is to make sure we get in and the second is to make sure that our game is real sharp, and if we continue to make sure our game's real sharp, then we'll go in in a good spot. Making the playoffs, it's a big deal. So to have a chance to do that tonight's pretty exciting."

The Blues have been the beneficiaries of playing one of the weaker schedules down the stretch. This will mark the third time since March 18 they'll have faced the Coyotes. The Blues have played the last-place Colorado Avalanche twice since March 5 and will play in Denver Friday and host the Avalanche to conclude the regular season on April 9.

"It's almost like a playoff series as many times as we've played them," Pietrangelo said of the Coyotes. "Coaches don't like it, but the best part is we don't have to sit through as many meetings. It's easier on us."

- - -

Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz will enter the lineup for his third NHL game.

Schmaltz, who's been a healthy scratch the past eight games, will replace Carl Gunnarsson in the lineup tonight.

Gunnarsson was apparently injured in the win over the Coyotes Monday and according to Yeo, missed the last 10 minutes of the game, which had Yeo joking: "If you guys would have been watching the game ... were you guys even there?"

Gunnarsson didn't skate this morning.

"Yeah, a little bit (dinged up). Held him off the ice today," Yeo said. "This was a game we were going to play Schmaltz no matter what. Keep 'Gunny' off the ice here today and should expect him back soon hopefully."

Schmaltz played 12 minutes, 8 seconds March 11 against the New York Islanders after making his NHL debut on March 5 against the Avalanche, where he played 15:07; he'll play alongside Robert Bortuzzo tonight.

"Always nice to know you're going to get back in the lineup and playing the game that you love, so yeah, it's going to be fun. I can't wait for it," Schmaltz said. "... You've just got to be ready for the bell. I guess the bell's ringing so I've got to answer the call here."

- - -

Goalie Carter Hutton will also enter the lineup tonight against the Coyotes in a potential clinching game.

Despite Jake Allen being 7-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .961 save percentage in his career against Arizona, including a 3-0 shutout here at Gila River Arena on March 18, Yeo said it's time to get Hutton some work.

"He's got all the skills of winning hockey games and doing the right things there, but there's much more than goes into it," Yeo said. "He's a great teammate for the guys. He's a guy that goes unnoticed just the extra work that he puts in after practice so guys in their game can stay sharp. I'm hoping that we put a good game in front of him here tonight.

"He's got a great attitude. He's happy for Jake's success. At the same time, he's a competitor and he wants to play. He makes sure that he stays focused and he's prepared. He puts an awful lot of work in on the non-game days to make sure his game stays sharp."

Hutton's last start was March 16, a 4-1 win at San Jose.

"Jakey's our guy; we know that," Hutton said. "... As of late, I haven't played that often, and when I have played, it's been back-to-backs. But I understand. I understand how it works. I thought at a point in the year, I came in and was solid when we needed it and I helped out and that's what you need sometimes from a No. 2 guy. Sometimes you're going to be called upon when normally you wouldn't be. It might not be that back-to-back situation. Now we're rolling and things are going well, so it is what it is. I can only control what I can do on the ice, my output in practice and preparing."

- - -

The Blues will insert a few tweaks into their specialty teams tonight, too.

Schmaltz will get some time on the point on the second power play unit, and Zach Sanford will move up to the first unit, dropping Patrik Berglund back to the second unit as well.

The Blues are 0-for-9 the past four games on the power play and haven't scored a man-advantage goal since Pietrangelo's tally at the tail end of a five-minute power play here on March 18.

"Last game was just not even close enough to good enough for us," Yeo said. "It's one thing if you don't score, but you want to generate some momentum and you want the rest of the guys on the bench feeling like we're doing the right things. Certainly that wasn't the case last game. We have to be much better tonight.

"We lost a lot of momentum from that (the first period power plays Monday). Watching the game again, our first couple shifts of the game were good and then it just kind of sucked the life out of us, so we have to be much better."

Schmaltz will quarterback along with Colton Parayko.

"I think I can help on that sort of end," Schmaltz said. "It's always nice being on the power play, getting a little more ice and hopefully create some scoring chances."

As for Sanford, it's a chance to put a bigger body at the net.

"Our power play hasn't been as good as it needs to be lately," Sanford said. "Hopefully I can be strong there and help us out.

"I think a lot of it's just getting to the net. We play on the perimeter a lot. I didn't really talk to the coaches too much, but I think they wanted 'Bergy' on the wall there on the second one, which makes sense. It's just another big guy to create traffic."

Putting Schmaltz on the man-advantage gives him an opportunity to get more acclimated with playing, since there's a likelihood he'll play Friday in Colorado, too.

"We intended to play him in this game and most likely next game no matter what because obviously guys have been doing a really good job, all of our guys, but we want to make sure everybody stays a part of it and everybody's game is staying sharp," Yeo said. "He's a young player who needs the experience so we feel like now's a good time."

"The last couple games, he just kind of said he's not going to make promises but to just be ready," Schmaltz said of Yeo. "I'm just trying to do that every day working after practice and stuff like that. Just trying to be a good teammate."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Alexander Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Zach Sanford-Ivan Barbashev-Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Robert Bortuzzo-Jordan Schmaltz

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

The Blues have no healthy scratches. Paul Stastny (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Jori Lehtera (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (undisclosed) and Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body) are out with injuries.

- - -

The Coyotes' projected lineup:

Clayton Keller-Christian Dvorak-Radim Vrbata

Max Domi-Alexander Burmistrov-Anthony Duclair

Brendan Perlini-Jordan Martinook-Tobias Rieder

Lawson Crouse-Peter Holland-Josh Jooris

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Connor Murphy

Alex Goligoski-Anthony DeAngelo

Jakob Chychrun-Luke Schenn

Louis Domingue will start in goal; Mike Smith will be the backup. 

Zbynek Michalek, Teemu Pulkkinen and Christian Fischer are healthy scratches. Brad Richardson (leg), Kevin Connauton (upper body) and Shane Doan (lower body) are out with injuries. Jamie McGinn (death in family) is out.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Barbashev proving he belongs in the NHL

Center providing much-needed relief at center, got proper growth from 
current staff in AHL after challenging first season with Chicago Wolves

ST. LOUIS -- Ivan Barbashev claimed he was nervous. Blues coach Mike Yeo thought he fit in immediately.

No matter how one dissects it, the Blues have found out rather quickly something they had been hoping for since the day they drafted Barbashev with the 33rd pick in the 2014 NHL Draft: he's a keeper, and the Blues are going to keep him, it looks like, in the NHL and allow the 21-year-old center iceman to grow.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues center Ivan Barbashev (49) celebrates after scoring against Calgary
on Saturday. Barbashev has earned his way to the NHL since his recall.

Barbashev, the pick the Blues acquired on July 13, 2013 along with Magnus Paajarvi that sent David Perron to the Edmonton Oilers, was called up from the Chicago Wolves and made his NHL debut on Jan. 26 in Minnesota, and admittedly and naturally, it was an adjustment.

"The first eight games was kind of hard, I was still nervous before every game," Barbashev said. "...  My first couple games, I was like really cautious. I was trying to not to make any mistakes and stuff like that. But right now, I'm still doing the same things, I'm trying to be careful because it's the NHL. Every mistake could be bad, but I'm trying to play smart, specially for my line."

The numbers may not jump off the stat page, but Barbashev's four goals and four assists through 23 NHL games are more than just the goals and assists. He's supplying more than depth at a center position that's been hurting because of injury to some key veterans, namely top-line center Paul Stastny as of late.

Nobody knew what to expect from Barbashev after coach Mike Yeo said "I didn't think his camp was very good, so I didn't really know what to expect."

But Barbashev, after putting up 19 goals and 18 assists in 46 games with the Chicago Wolves this season, came in ready to compete for a job, and has won over the staff.

"I thought that he fit in right from the get-go," Yeo said of Barbashev. "He earned our trust. I had heard he was playing well. We gave him the opportunity and he took full advantage of it. I think what's more impressive from me is not that he came in without nerves, I think that's quite often the case with a lot of young players, but what's more impressive to me is quite often with these guys, one, two, three weeks into it, all of the sudden, they reach their water level. He is showing no signs. He's showing that actually he's playing better hockey this time of the year in these difficult games when things get ramped up and he can have a bad shift, he can have a game that's not his best and he can bounce back from that."

Barbashev, who said he gained 16 pounds to put him at his current weight of 196 to go with his 6-foot-0 frame, said it's been a different lifestyle of eating at the NHL level, one that includes a protein-rich cache of foods.

"The foods I eat two years before and right now, it's completely different," he said. "That's probably why I gain some weight. It's a really good thing. Protein and I've been working out all summer."

But Barbashev joked, "They've been helping us with the ice cream before bed."

After a successful three-year win with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL where he put up 88 goals and 137 assists in 173 regular season games, Barbashev's AHL career with the Wolves got off to a rough start. 

He finished with 10 goals and 18 assists in 65 games in the 2015-16 season and found life challenging. But he took the high road and continued to work at his craft.

"It was frustrating to start, because after they put me on the fourth line, I just said, 'whatever, I'm going to keep working hard,'" Barbashev said of the coaching regime of John Anderson, now an assistant with the Minnesota Wild. "I've talked to a lot of people, especially my family, all my friends who play professional, my brother (Sergei) who is in KHL for five years. He's been playing on the fourth and third line for four years. He knows how it is. He told me just 'don't worry, keep working hard every day, be the last guy on the ice and be always in the gym and work hard and you'll see what happens.'"

Blues management felt Barbashev wasn't being used in proper situations and his growth was being paused because of it, so enter a new coaching staff this season that includes coach Craig Berube and assistants Darryl Sydor and Daniel Tkazcuk.

"They made a big difference," Barbashev said. "All of those coaches, they've been working on me the whole year in Chicago. Thanks to them, they did a helluva job. Huge difference to be honest since last year. My game changed a lot. Right now, I'm playing like I used to play in juniors. That's probably why I had success at this level. 

"The biggest change is about the organization since last year and this year. This year, they told me before season I'm going to have more minutes in Chicago. It really happened. I had more minutes. I was on the ice in real important times of the game with a minute left or something. That's how we learned because the AHL is a professional league, too, and that was relief for me that I spent one and a half years in Chicago. It really helped me, but now I'm trying to make the team for next year. I'm just trying to improve myself."

And Barbashev is proving himself with his poise with the puck, his ability to protect it from the big, brawny players trying to out-muscle him at the point of contact, and Barbashev continues to dazzle and impress Blues fans with his stick-handling abilities and persistent play under pressure.

"He's competitive," Yeo said. "You always talk about hockey strength and you see guys go into the corner and find a way to come out with it. ... I know that he goes into the corner and he comes out with the puck. In his body checks and his counter checks, he usually comes out on top."

"I'm getting more comfortable to be honest," Barbashev said. "... Now, I'm just going in every game, I'm feeling comfortable, I'm trying to create some offense right now. I'm just trying to go out there and do my job.

"I feel like with this team, I'm just getting comfortable and comfortable. The guys are always helping me out, same as coaches always telling me 'great job' and stuff like that. It just feels like I'm more comfortable. Hopefully it's going to go higher."

Barbashev played a career-high 15 minutes of ice time against Arizona, the Blues' opponent Wednesday again to begin a two-game trip. He didn't score, but since the loss of Stastny and no apparent timetable of his return, Barbashev has given the Blues a bonafide center to play between fellow young forwards Nail Yakupov and Zach Sanford, and perhaps Dmitrij Jaskin, who Barbashev played with at Moncton, when Jaskin returns from an upper-body injury.

"The first game together was a little tough because we didn't have much chemistry between us, but now, I know where 'Sandy' and 'Yak' will be on the ice," Barbashev said. "If I'm going to put the puck behind the net with no look, I know somebody will be there. It's kind of made my game easier."

Yeo won't put a ceiling on what Barbashev can reach with the Blues and his NHL career, but if he continues to trend in the right direction and is able to handle the responsibilities the coaching staff puts on him, Barbashev can certainly be a staple on this team for years to come.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues center Ivan Barbashev (right), here battling with a pair of Calgary
players, scored his first NHL goal Feb. 7 against Ottawa.

"I never really like to put a ceiling on young players," Yeo said. "So for us, we'll just keep trying to push him. Obviously he's got great tools. I think that he's showing he's playing a mature game, but there's certain parts of his game that with us coaches, we have to try to grow in terms of his play without the puck, but we really have to try and challenge him with the puck and see what he can grow into, give him the opportunity to make plays, teach when it's time to teach, but give him the opportunity show us what he can do."

Which is fine with Barbashev, who is having the time of his life.

"I wasn't sure if I would be able to play at this level," said Barbashev, whose first NHL goal came Feb. 7 against the Ottawa Senators in a 6-0 victory. "But if you work hard, you're going to be good at this level. That's what I did my first eight games, but I'm still working hard and right now, it just feels good to be here.

"Oh my God! It's a lot of fun!"

* NOTES -- The Blues signed Providence College defenseman Jake Walman to a three-year entry-level contract on Tuesday.

Walman, 21, is a third-round selection by the Blues in the 2014 NHL Draft who completed his collegiate season at Providence recently with seven goals and 18 assists in 39 games. 

The 6-0, 193-pound Toronto native, Walman spent three seasons at Providence and was named a Hockey East first-team all-star in each of the past two seasons.

Walman will immediately report to the Wolves, joining 2016 first-round pick Tage Thompson.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Blues' top line, Allen lead way in 4-1 win over Coyotes

Steen, Tarasenko, Schwartz combine for 10 
points to keep pace in Western Conference race

ST. LOUIS -- The 19,164 that paid to watch the Blues and Arizona Coyotes on Monday were in the process of asking for their money back.

In the first period, the hockey was boring, there was no bite, and the Blues needed some sort of jolt in a game where two points mattered much more to them than the Coyotes.

This is where coaches normally say, "Our best players need to be our best players," and Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz took matters into their own hands.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues teammates Jaden Schwartz, Nail Yakupov & Alexander Steen (20)
congratulate Alex Pietrangelo on his second-period goal Monday.

In the end, after the trio had already combined for seven points, they teamed up for one more goal, one by Tarasenko, but it was evident that Steen and Tarasenko tried to get Schwartz a hat trick.

The Blues' top line saw Steen leading the way with a career-high four assists and matching a career-high four points (done two other times), Schwartz had two goals and one assist and Tarasenko had a goal and two assists as the Blues took care of business with a 4-1 win against the Coyotes for their 10th straight win against Arizona, and the Blues have earned a point in 14 straight against the Coyotes (13-0-1).

The win for the Blues (41-28-6), 5-0-1 in the past six, leaves them still one point behind Nashville for third place in the Central Division and two behind the Calgary Flames for the first wild card in the Western Conference. Nashville won 3-1 at the New York Islanders and Calgary took care of business at home, 4-2 against Colorado.

But more importantly for the Blues, they now have an 11-point edge on the Los Angeles Kings, who are the lone team mathematically alive for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the conference after the Blues eliminated Dallas and Winnipeg.

"It's that time of the year," said Schwartz, who got his first two-goal game since Dec. 6 against Montreal. "Everyone knows how big these points are and everyone wants to keep moving up and there's teams on everyone's heels. That's just how it is this time of year."

And the Blues kept pace because their top line got the ball rolling offensively, and Jake Allen was robust in goal with a 21-save performance to improve to 7-0-0 lifetime against Arizona.

In a first period that was as stale as the score indicated (0-0), neither team produced much offensively, but Allen had to make two strong saves in a 5-5 shot total for the period.

"We were just a little too relaxed, I think," said Allen, who earned his 30th win on the night and become the first Blues goalie since Chris Mason (2009-10) to win 30 games in a season. "First period on both teams, each team had a couple good chances, but other than that, it was a pretty slow period. I think both teams were a little sluggish to start and it wasn't good. It was 0-0, which was fine, but it definitely wasn't a great start."

Something clicked, and it was the top line that got the ball rolling.

"Yeah, we weren't good in the first, that's for sure," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "And so what you hope, you go in and you obviously challenge the group to be better from that point and so what you hope is that the response starts from your leaders and we got that."

"I thought after the first period, we started working a lot harder," Steen said. "I think we've had our fair share of chances in the recent last few games here and have hit posts and goalies made some saves, but tonight, we kind of turned it in our favor and got some bounces for us."

Schwartz put the Blues ahead 1-0 at 7 minutes, 53 seconds of the first when Steen made a move past Connor Murphy and slipped the puck in a spot for Schwartz to snap it past Mike Smith.

"That was a great pass," Schwartz said. "I saw him hesitate, I was on the outside, and that meant he wanted me to jump to the inside. The 'D' was focused on him, I think he drew a couple guys to him, that's what left me open and he made a great pass."

Steen added: "I knew once I made the move behind the net that I had a little bit of space. 'Schwartzy' made a great read, I think we both saw that area right away, so it was pretty easy. 

"He's easy to play with. He's a hard working guy which makes it easy to read off him. He's more times than not he's in the right spot. You know, just like that goal, you see the same area and he kind of jumps toward it. He's a good player, man."

Alex Pietrangelo's 12th of the season, which ties a career-high set in 2011-12, came after Nail Yakupov, who got an assist for the third straight game, tried to dangle through Anthony DeAngelo, but the puck caromed off the Coyotes defenseman right to Pietrangelo, who hammered a shot from the right circle off the far post past Smith at 12:28 of the second for a 2-0 lead.

That's when Allen came up critical.

After making key saves on Josh Jooris and Tobias Rieder in the first, Allen made four crucial saves in the second to keep it 2-0.

He denied Christian Dvorak's backhand charging hard at the net with 4:46 left in the period, then made the outstretched glove save on Max Domi with 4:41 left and heard the appreciation of the fans.

"You hear them, but you're pretty zoned in," Allen said. "It's tough to explain unless you're in the position that I'm in. You love the energy and hearing the energy. You more or less hear it at the start of the periods, but once the clock starts, it's all business. It's just something that grows on you after playing goal for 15-16 years."

Allen then made two back-to-back saves on Jordan Martinook late in the period.

"Jake was huge tonight," Yeo said. "The first period, for us to come out 0-0, that was on him. And then the second period, obviously we grab a lead there and at the end of the period, we gave up a couple of massive chances that not only did we keep the lead, but I thought the building came alive. I think the building recognized what he was doing for us and so we certainly got momentum from that as well."

"Obviously it's a jolt to the group," Steen said. "The biggest thing he brings to the table is a calmness. When there's a breakdown, you feel a confidence and he's going to stop this one and we're not going let that happen again. It's a little bit of a jolt for the group.

"... I've been saying it for years. I think you could see it right away when he came up in training camps and stuff. The technique and, in my opinion, he's got one of the better hockey senses in the group. He's able to read the play almost like in the beginning of the year, he was reading it too well, he was almost a step ahead and the bounce would beat him. He's a solid goaltender. I think he's one of the top three in the league."

The Coyotes (27-40-9), who got a goal from DeAngelo and 24 saves from Smith to finish off a five-game trip 1-4-0, got on the board on DeAngelo's long-range one-timer 1:01 into the third to make it 2-1, moments after Schwartz put a shot off the post and Smith robbed Steen with a sprawling glove save at 19:33. 

But the Blues regrouped, got a big goal from Schwartz at 10:06 after a pretty passing play between Steen and Tarasenko's backhand in the slot, and Tarasenko finished off a 3-on-1 when he and Steen tried to get Schwartz his hat trick.

"That's probably what everyone tries to do when anyone has two goals," Tarasenko said. "Just tried to set him up for a nice empty-netter, but I miss the play. Say sorry already.

"... It's nice 'Schwartzy' start scoring again. They're both are great players. I keep saying this, it's a pleasure to play with them and we need to improve more and win the games that we have left to prepare for the playoffs."

"It doesn't matter," Schwartz said of the hat trick. "These two points are all that matters right now. I knew 'Vladi' was looking for me, hat tricks aren't something you're really worried about."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen (left) makes a save on Arizona's Christian Dvorak
in the second period of a 4-1 victory on Monday at Scottrade Center.

It didn't go his way, but Swansea, Ill. native Clayton Keller, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Arizona on Sunday, made his NHL debut in the building he grew up watching and idolizing what would be his AAA Blues coach, Keith Tkachuk.

Keller, who was the seventh pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, played 14:09 and got a tap on the shin pads from Tarasenko at the opening puck drop.

"It's something I'll never forget," Keller said. "He's an unbelievable player. He's a star in the league and someone I definitely look up to. It was awesome.for him to come up and say congrats on the first one here.

"It was a really special moment getting to start. It is something I will remember forever and you only have one first NHL game, but I thought it was pretty cool."

(3-27-17) Coyotes-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Second-year defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson continue to learn on the fly.

But now with the Blues' defensive unit more solidified with the trade of Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals, Parayko and Edmundson, who both have become accustomed to one another as consistent partners together, are growing as a top-unit defensive pair.

Playing in a top-four, both Parayko and Edmundson, one more of a well-rounded offensive defenseman with quality shutdown ability, and another known as a physical d-man in his zone with a penchant of pitching in some offense, are relishing in the fact the Blues, who close a three-game homestand tonight against the Arizona Coyotes, are giving them more responsibilities.

"It's been a lot of fun just in a sense that we're getting a lot of trust from the coaching staff and the players and when you get that, you start to build a little bit of confidence," Parayko, who has four goals and 29 assists in 73 games this season. "It's a learning curve. Every game, we're making mistakes. It's the nature of the game. Everyone makes mistakes, but that's the beauty. We're kind of doing it together and it's a lot of fun, too, to have Joel on my side to learn together because I think if we can continue to play together for a few years, we can really become a dominant pair.

"We're playing against some of the top teams' lines, and that's good. That's what kind of makes you go out and need to perform at your highest levels. These are the best players in the world. When you get that opportunity, it only makes you have confidence as the game goes on. You'll continue to learn and improve from it."

Blues coach Mike Yeo is playing Parayko an average of 21 minutes, 4 seconds per game, and is at 17:25 on the season, but Edmundson has played 18-plus minutes in 14 of 24 games since Yeo's arrival, and Parayko is over 20 minutes a night in 14 of 24 games.

"Those guys have deserved it," Yeo said. "No different than our forward position, if the job wasn't getting done, then you switch it out, but those guys have been doing a nice job. 

"They're big bodies, they're physical. They both can skate, they both can execute and they both have a defensive mindset to their game. When you're looking at guys that are going to play in your top four, it's pretty hard to be one-dimensional. You need guys now that are solid defenders and guys that can execute and move the puck. Typically those guys are on the ice a lot of time with your best players or guys that are higher up in the lineup. In order for those guys to be able to get to their game, then they need defensemen that can get them the puck and both guys can do that.

"Colton, there's just so much pure raw talent there. He's still a young guy who's developing his game. His defensive game is just rock solid and we're seeing more and more confidence in his offensive game, and that'll continue to grow. That'll take several years for him to really get on top of that, but he's already a great player there, but I just think the sky's the limit. Eddy's almost a raw, just physical, just a real solid defending type of player. There's some detail in his game that we're working on and some things that he'll learn, and a lot of that will come with experience, but overall, he's a real competitor."

They're young players, and mistakes will be made, but he more experience they gain, the more they seem to thrive, and that minimizes the errors.

"We always come to the rink and expect to learn something," Edmundson said. "You just have to keep an open mind. We try to learn from your like 'Bouw' and 'Petro.' Last year, we both played with veteran defensemen. We learned a lot and now we're just trying to use that to our experience.

"We realize if we don't have the puck and it's in our forwards' hands, we're doing our jobs. We're just trying to get it away from us as soon as we can and protect our own zone. 'Wils' (assistant coach Rick Wilson) is comfortable throwing all six of us out there. It doesn't matter what point of the game it is. If you're playing your game that night, he'll throw you out there. It's going to help us in the playoffs for sure."

- - -

The Blues (40-28-6), who host the Coyotes (27-39-9) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) in a home-and-home set, begin a week of three games against the bottom two teams in the Western Conference, including road games at Arizona Wednesday and Colorado on Friday.

The Blues trail the Nashville Predators by one point for third place in the Central Division but lead the Los Angeles Kings by nine for the second wild card in the Western Conference. They also trail Calgary by two points with one game in hand for the first wild card.

"It doesn't seem like a lot of games, but there's still 16 points even though we're nine in front," Parayko said. "People say we have a favorable schedule and things like that, but teams are very good hockey clubs. Even though they don't have the records to show it, they still have lots of players that can put the puck in the net and lots of players that are dangerous. We definitely can't see it as a finish line yet. We've just got to do what we can control."

The Blues are 9-1-1 the past 11 games and have allowed 17 goals in that span.

"I think we've been playing great over the last month I would say," Parayko said. "These points are big. It's tough to get points this time of the year based on the fact that the standings are always tight, everyone's fighting for that home ice advantage, everyone's fighting for that extra playoff spot."

The Blues are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Flames.

"Through 60 minutes, I thought we had the better of the chances as far as numbers and quality," Yeo said. "Certainly (Calgary is) a skilled team, but I thought that we did a lot of really good things. At the end of the night, we still lost the game and we've got to find a way to bounce back today."

The Blues defeated the Coyotes 3-0 on March 18, their ninth straight win against Arizona and the 13th straight game earning a point against the Coyotes (12-0-1), but Yeo wants to see a bit more.

"We have to play for 60 minutes," Yeo said. "I thought we had a real good start in that game (1-0 lead after one period, 16-3 shot edge). I think it was a combination that they weren't on top of their game and we were really good to start. ... We got the lead, and then early in the second period, we scored and from that point on, we changed our game and from that point on, I thought they had the better of the chances. We opened up the game and ironically we didn't score any more goals (on goalie Mike Smith) from that point and we gave them way too much. We have to control the game a little bit better tonight."

- - -

Matthew Tkachuk already returned to his hometown to play, and now it's Clayton Keller's turn.

The Coyotes' 2016 first-round pick (No. 7 overall, two spots behind Tkachuk), who signed an entry-level contract on Sunday, will make his NHL debut tonight in a barn he grew up idolizing Blues players.

Keller, 18, a Swansea, Ill. native who just completed his freshman season at Boston University on Saturday, got into Boston at 4 a.m. Sunday, flew out at 6 a.m. and arrived in St. Louis for practice Sunday. 

"It's really cool, the place I grew up watching games," said Keller, who called Keith Tkachuk, one of his AAA Blues coaches, as his favorite player growing up. "My dad, grandpa taking me to games when I was really young. It's really special to have the first one here. I'm looking forward to it."

Keller, who said he'll have family and close friends in attendance tonight, is the first cousin of Blues assistant equipment manager Chad O'Neil.

"He's been great," Keller said. "I can remember when I was real young and skating out there with him, things like that, and always fixing my equipment, always being there for me and my family, sharpening my brother's skates and mine. I can't thank him enough, so it's special to have him around."

- - -

Goalie Jake Allen, who is 7-1-1 and allowed 12 goals in that stretch, will start in goal; he is 6-0-0 with 1.00 goals-against average and .962 save percentage with two shutouts in his career against the Coyotes.

Yeo said forward Dmitrij Jaskin (upper-body injury) is close to returning to active duty but will miss a seventh consecutive game.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Alexander Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Zach Sanford-Ivan Barbashev-Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson-Robert Bortuzzo

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

The healthy scratch is Jordan Schmaltz. Paul Stastny (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Jori Lehtera (upper body) and Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body) are out with injuries.

- - -

The Coyotes' projected lineup:

Max Domi-Christian Dvorak-Radim Vrbata

Clayton Keller-Alexander Burmistrov-Christian Fischer

Brendan Perlini-Jordan Martinook-Tobias Rieder

Lawson Crouse-Josh Jooris-Jamie McGinn

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Connor Murphy

Alex Goligoski-Anthony DeAngelo

Jakob Chychrun-Luke Schenn

Mike Smith will start in goal; Louis Domingue will be the backup. 

Zbynek Michalek, Teemu Pulkkinen, Peter Holland and Anthony Duclair are healthy scratches. Brad Richardson (broken leg), Kevin Connauton (upper body) and Shane Doan (lower body) are out with injuries.