By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues are sticking with the same lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round series Sunday against the Minnesota Wild (2 p.m.; NBC, KMOX 1120-AM).
Blues coach Mike Yeo will keep young Zach Sanford in the lineup and veteran center Jori Lehtera will have a seat in the press box for the second straight game.
What is changing is venues, and the Blues, who have a 2-0 series lead looking for a stranglehold today, saw firsthand what a raucous crowd can be like.
In Games 1 and 2 at Xcel Energy Center, it was boisterous, and the Blues will now have the opportunity to feed off what is expected to be an extremely loud and energetic crowd at Scottrade Center who will have the chance to be waving their Vladimir Tarasenko Winter Classic replica jersey rally towels.
"It would be nice to give them a chance to be loud early in the game; I think they're going to be loud early in the game anyway, but to give them a chance to get even louder, put some pressure on and to start with some jump, that would be ideal," Yeo said Sunday morning. "Everybody knows. Most of this team has played in the playoffs, deep in the playoffs and have had the opportunity of playing in front of this crowd. We also have to make sure we don't let that get us carried away as well. Make sure we don't get running around too much looking for the big hit, looking for the big play. Those opportunities will present themselves in the game and we just have to make sure that we continue to play the same way."
It didn't seem to affect their play on the road, and the Blues don't anticipate that it will change at home, but having that last line change and getting perhaps a proper matchup could have its advantages.
Or could it?
"I thought more about this as I was asked this question the other day and you look at what a lot of the road teams have done so far and I think what you've seen in the league is there's less mismatches as far as personnel," Yeo said. "There's different types of lines, but both teams have really good players out of the lineup or good players that are on their fourth lines. It;s tougher to really find a mismatch out there now. That doesn't mean to say that we're just going to throw players on the ice whenever their name is called. Certainly there's situations, there's times, there's certain things you look for, but again, don't want to get into the fact of we get players out of the rhythm of playing to the point where we're trying to find a specific matchup and a guy like Vladi's on the bench and he's not getting into the game. One thing we did on the road, obviously we're very respectful of what they have over there, but we didn't try to hide anybody, we didn't try to protect anybody and I think with that came a little momentum and I think everybody was on top of their game."
As for Tarasenko, he hasn't scored, but he has made an impact in the series.
Tarasenko, who has seven shots on goal in two games, assisted on Joel Edmundson's overtime game-winner, is drawing the attention from Minnesota's top players, but he's playing through it and making the extra effort to do some of the little things to make his game more complete.
"Vladi's played unbelievably," Yeo said. "For me, what I love and what I respect is he's wanted to take a step as a leader. You look at obviously the play that he made on the OT winner on Game 1, but go back and watch his first shift in Game 2 and the back-check that he has and he comes back to break up a play. That's what he's doing right now, he's doing all the little things. He's still getting involved, that line's still had the most scoring chances of any of the lines that we've had, but he recognizes that there's going to be situations and opportunities for him to be ablr to create and obviously we need him to do that and against a tough checking team. You're going to have to do a lot of other things well and he's done that for us.
"Coming in, he prepared knowing that they were going to key on him, knowing that there wasn't going to be a lot of ice, easy ice and that's made things a little easy on him. But that said, he's a competitor and we need him to score at some point. So we believe if we continue to do the right things and he continues to do the right things that he'll break out at some point here."
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-David Perron
Vladimir Sobotka-Alexander Steen-Zach Sanford
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.
Healthy scratches include Jori Lehtera, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jordan Schmaltz and Luke Opilka. Paul Stastny (foot), Robby Fabbri (knee) and Nail Yakupov (undisclosed) remain out.
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The Wild's projected lineup:
Charlie Coyle-Eric Staal-Zach Parise
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Nino Niederreiter-Martin Hanzal-Erik Haula
Chris Stewart-Joel Eriksson Ek-Jason Pominville
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella-Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Christian Folin
Devan Dubnyk will start in goal; Darcy Kuemper is expected to be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Jordan Schroeder, Ryan White, Nate Prosser, Alex Stalock and Victor Bartley. The Wild report no injuries.