By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The preseason debut for David Perron is on hold ... again.
Perron, who was supposed to play in Des Moines, Iowa against the Minnesota Wild, was going to make his preseason debut today against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 p.m. at Enterprise Center but has been ruled out with a sore groin. Also, center Tyler Bozak was supposed to play but has also been ruled out with a sore groin.
"Him and Bozak, we had both of those guys scheduled to play the game today, but both guys have sore groins and just at this point, probably not a good decision to put them in the lineup, so we'll just give them another day of rest here and hopefully feeling better tomorrow," Blues coach Mike Yeo said.
Bozak played and scored twice on Wednesday in a 3-2 win over the Wild, but Perron has been on and off the ice since Monday when he missed the second half of a scheduled practice; he practiced on Thursday.
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Robby Fabbri was scheduled to get back on the ice on Friday but was not in the lineup against the Blue Jackets.
He did not practice for a second straight day with a sore back and Yeo added another caveat.
"Fabbri has a sore back and sore hip flexor so just hold him out for another day and see how he is tomorrow," Yeo said.
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Zach Sanford was scheduled to practice on Friday but missed because of the sudden death of his father, Michael Sanford.
"There's really nothing to be said about that. It's brutal," Yeo said. "I feel terrible for him and his family."
Yeo said Sanford will be given the proper time to grieve with his family.
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Sammy Blais and Jordan Kyrou are part of the game group tonight and will be given the opportunity to play with Brayden Schenn in another opportunity to showcase themselves and make another case to make the squad out of camp.
Kyrou had a goal and assist Tuesday in a 5-3 loss at Dallas, playing alongside Ryan O'Reilly and Pat Maroon.
Blais scored against the Wild Wednesday playing with Bozak and Alexander Steen.
"There's no doubt that those guys have been very strong up to this point and as we know as camp moves along, the level of competition goes up," Yeo said. "From game to game, you're going to see stronger lineups, some more NHL players in the lineup so as you move forward later on in camp, I would say that playing well tonight means more than it does in the first game and so on in camp. The level's going to go up and we want to see if they can continue to play at that level."
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Vladimir Tarasenko and Jay Bouwmeester will make their preseason debuts tonight.
Tarasenko is coming off surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder sustained in the regular-season finale last season at Colorado on April 7; he had surgery on April 11.
Tarasenko will get the chance to play with O'Reilly and Maroon tonight.
"It'll be nice and getting a home game," O'Reilly said. "We've practiced together all camp and it'll be nice to get in a game and get some real game experience. I think it'll go well.
"Vladi's intelligence, you see how smart he is offensively. He's just dangerous everywhere. He's one of the few guys in the league that, you put him in the offensive zone, he's got a chance to score from everywhere. ... He has such an impact from all over the ice. ... Patty makes plays. He's just so tough to get the puck off of. I think it's a good line. It's the first chance tonight, but I'm excited for it."
Maroon said it will be a good opportunity for the line to develop that much-needed chemistry.
"I still think we need to find that chemistry and that jam, get used to each other," Maroon said. "Me and O'Reilly played together in Dallas. We found some chemistry there and with Vladi, it's only going to make things a lot easier for us. The first few scrimmages, we weren't really as sharp. You're still trying to get your legs underneath you and your skill, the timing of the game. Tonight is a good challenge for us to build some chemistry moving forward. I think we need to start doing it now."
Bouwmeester last played on March 3 and had surgery on his left hip.
"I need just to play. You do your work. Everybody's in shape," Bouwmeester said. "I feel pretty good, practicing and all that. I'm excited to play. That's the fun part.
"Yeah, pretty close (to 100 percent healthy). As far as where I thought I'd be at this point, it is where I thought it would be. The last twelve months, but before that, I felt fine."
Yeo is anxious to see him play a game.
"He looks really good. I'm excited to see him," Yeo said. "Obviously getting in the game is going to be big for him. He's missed a lot of time. I can't say that any of us expect or he expects to be completely on top of his game, but that's no different than for anybody else out there. I would say that the one advantage that he has over most is just his experience. He's been a part of a number of these camps. His skating ability and his experience. I would certainly expect him to come in and not look too far off."
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Tonight is going to be an important game for 2017 first-round pick Robert Thomas.
Yeo on Thursday said that Thomas has another level to his game and he'll get the chance to showcase it tonight to see if he can move up the chain of players looking to make the roster.
"I think so for sure," Thomas said. "Throughout the camp, I've been getting a little better each day, but I definitely have another level to play.
"I think for me, it's just relaxing a bit. I think I've been playing a little bit too safe. Just going for it really. ... There's always that little bit of fear, but I don't think it's that big. I think for me it's just relaxing and having fun with the whole thing."
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Tonight will mark Maroon's first game in his hometown playing at Enterprise Center.
Maroon said son Anthony and dad Philip will be in attendance.
"I'm excited," Maroon said. "I've already got the one out of the way. I know it's preseason, but it's exciting to come home and get my first real home game as a St. Louis Blue. It's exciting for sure.
"... I haven't really talked to my family. I know my son's coming, that's about it, and my dad. I haven't really talked to my family. I don't know really who's coming and who's not. If they need tickets, they can go buy them. Obviously my family's a big support for me. They've been there with me from Day 1. They're huge fans. They show a lot of support. I'm sure they'll be coming tonight, but I haven't really talked to them."
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Not much has been made about the camp of 2017 first-round pick (31st overall) Klim Kostin, but Yeo said it's been a good camp for Kostin, who had 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 67 games at San Antonio of the American Hockey League last season.
"I think that Klim has made big strides from last year," Yeo said. "The biggest thing for me right now at this point of his career is he looks much stronger, much more comfortable, more prepared to play a North American style of game. When he first came here, I thought there was a lot of 1-on-1 individual play, I thought there was a lot of slow-it-down, east-west play. The way teams track back, the way teams defend, it's just too hard to have success offensively. I feel like he's more north, he's more direct, plays with more pace in his game and he's really strong at protecting the puck and with that, he's creating more offense, more involved offensively. The area he has to improve, for sure, is without the puck. The most important part right now is the offensive part of his game of developing and now, there's time to start working on the other stuff."
Playing for a staff that didn't involve Blues coaches last year all but washed out a year of development for Kostin, 18 at the time. But that will change for him moving forward.
"Whatever last year was, I know that with the staff that we have down there this year and the attention that he's going to get and the opportunity that he'd going to get, it's going to be outstanding for him," Yeo said. "We haven't sent him down, he's still here with us so we'll see throughout camp. So if he is there, then that's going to be a great opportunity for him to grow and that's not just for him, that's for anybody that's down there."
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Pat Maroon-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko
Sammy Blais-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou
Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Dmitrij Jaskin
Jordan Nolan-Oskar Sundqvist-Brian Flynn
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
Jay Bouwmeester-Jordan Schmaltz
Jake Walman-Niko Mikkola
Chad Johnson will start in goal and play the entire game; Jordan Binnington will be the backup.
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The Blue Jackets' projected lineup:
Sonny Milano-Riley Nash-Jonathan Davidsson
Anthony Duclair-Ryan MacInnis-Zac Dalpe
Eric Robinson-Liam Foudy-Justin Scott
Paul Bittner-Lukas Sedlak-Nikita Korostelev
Dean Kukan-Scott Harrington
Doyle Somerby-David Savard
Gabriel Carlsson-Adam Clendening
Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal; Brad Thiessen will be the backup.