Thursday, February 8, 2018

(2-8-18) Avalanche-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- In an effort to try and jump-starting an offense, Blues coach Mike Yeo has pulled the old Ken Hitchcock method: throw names in a blender and see what comes out.

The Blues (32-20-3), who entertain the Colorado Avalanche (29-19-4) today at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) before going on the road for a Friday game at Winnipeg, have scored three or fewer goals in seven straight games and two or fewer in three straight.

And after a discouraging 6-2 loss on home ice against Minnesota on Tuesday, the Blues are looking for a rebound game tonight.

"It's a big divisional game again," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "This whole week is important to us, right? We didn't start off on the right foot, but nothing else you can do tonight but respond and play better and I expect that from this group."

Yeo will separate Vladimir Tarasenko from Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz and put him on a line with Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen. Patrik Berglund moves up to the Schenn line to play right wing, Vladimir Sobotka will start off centering the third line with Dmitrij Jaskin and Tage Thompson, who returns after being a healthy scratch on Tuesday, and Ivan Barbashev drops to the fourth line with Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak.

"We're looking to score some goals here," Yeo said. "I know we got two (against Minnesota), we scored one late last game. But we're looking to score some goals, we're looking to spread things out. Might see a couple different things through the course of the night. We'll see how the game's going."

The Blues seemed locked in to the work they've put in the past two days and seem like they're ready to get re-focused on the task at hand.

"It's a business-like attitude today," Pietrangelo said. "Everybody knows we need a response and we know what this week is in terms of divisional games and gaining points and putting ourselves in a good spot here going forward in the second half of the season. We feel it in the room today and I expect a good push tonight."

The Blues will go back to the traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen, meaning Robert Bortuzzo will be a healthy scratch tonight.

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As far as Tarasenko, he has one assist the past five games and without him producing offensively, the Blues are hard-pressed to get that necessary offense to win.

"He had a couple looks last game," Yeo said of Tarasenko. "But I would say that in talking with 'Vladi' yesterday, that he's frustrated. This has been a trying year for him. It's been really the first time in his career that he's kinda had to deal with something like this, and he's learning how to deal with that.

"We'll give him a bit of a line switch today, see what that can do. But he's just gotta find a way to keep working. He's gotta work from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer, and if he does that then I like to believe that he's too good to stop."

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Berglund moves to a top six role for the first time this season; he's played in 31 games and has seven goals and four assists.

"It's been too inconsistent," Berglund said regarding his game. "I think a lot of the guys in here feel that way, but I definitely feel like you have a good game, you have a not so good game. You have to find a better balance here and play better.

"... It's going to be fun. After last game, I think everybody knew they were going to switch the lines up a little bit and try to find ways to create some more offense. It's going to be exciting. Hopefully I can help them out and help myself out to go out there do a good job."

So Yeo is moving the big Swede up to try and help him generate some offense.

"Obviously Schwartz and 'Schenner' have an ability to create plays, create momentum and to bring out the best in the people that they're playing with, so 'Bergy's a guy that's gonna be a very important part for us down the stretch run," Yeo said. "You look at what he did last year, for us to be able to make the playoffs and the level of play that he played at for that period of time, we're gonna need a similar effort."

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The Blues are going back with Carter Hutton in goal tonight against the Avalanche, who he beat 3-1 here just two weeks ago making 36 saves.

Hutton was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots and made way for Jake Allen, who is likely to start Friday at Winnipeg, to take over the final two periods.

"A loss is a loss, no big deal," Hutton said. "You play 82 games, there will be good and bad ones. That's the way it goes.

"If we keep winning four of five we'll be all right. It's one of those things. Our misses are bad. It's the way it goes. It's one of those things, we have to be more consistent. I think we have to demand more out of each other. Your best players have to be your best players this time of year. That's what we need here."

Yeo is going back to Hutton out of fairness.

"I don't think there's really any thoughts. I don't know that he deserved to come out of the game last game, and I think he deserves a chance to bounce back today," Yeo said.

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The Blues are 8-0-1 against the Avalanche, who will get injured Mikko Rantanen back today, the past nine games.

The Blues will miss Avalanche leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon, who is out with an upper-body injury.

Steen has nine points (five goals, four assists) the past nine games and has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 39 games against Colorado.

Hutton is 6-2-0 with a 1.55 goals-against average, a .949 save percentage and two shutouts his past eight starts.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Patrik Berglund 

Dmitrij Jaskin-Vladimir Sobotka-Tage Thompson

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ivan Barbashev 

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Vince Dunn

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

Healthy scratches include Robert Bortuzzo and Chris Thorburn. Zach Sanford (shoulder) is skating but remains out. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.

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The Avalanche's projected lineup:

Gabriel Landeskog-Alexander Kerfoot-Mikko Rantanen

Matt Nieto-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau

Tyson Jost-J.T. Compher-Colin Wilson

Gabriel Bourque-Dominic Toninato-Nail Yakupov

Nikita Zadorov-Erik Johnson

Patrik Nemeth-Tyson Barrie

Samuel Girard-Anton Lindholm

Jonathan Bernier will start in goal; Semyon Varlamov will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include A.J. Greer and Andrei Mironov. Nathan MacKinnon (upper body), Sven Andrighetto (lower body), Mark Barberio (lower body) and Vladislav Kamenev (arm) are all out. 

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