Friday, November 19, 2010

(11-19-10) Senators-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Two teams that are in dire need of a victory here tonight are looking at the matchup from different points of view.

For the Blues (9-5-3), a five-game winless skid (0-4-1) after a seven-game winning streak puts them in a desperate need of a victory no matter who the opponent is.

It just so happens to be the 9-9-1 Ottawa Senators, who have dropped three of four which includes a 7-1 blowout loss Wednesday at Carolina.

But given the circumstances the Senators have been through, one can understand the emotions -- or lack thereof -- of going through a game Wednesday with not much focus on inside the rink.

The Senators have been dealing with the emotions of what happened outside the rink, when the daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson recently committed suicide.

Daron Richardson was 14 years old when her mother found her in the basement of their home a week ago today. She was rushed to the hospital to no avail, and the entire Senators organization has dealt with the unthinkable.

"Any time you see something happen like that in the hockey world, it's a tough thing," Blues winger B.J. Crombeen said. "You never want to see that anywhere. The hockey family, as a group, is known as a tight-knit family. To see something like that, it's tough for everyone involved and I can only imagine."

Added Blues coach Davis Payne, "What they're going through, to me, is absolutely unimaginable. I don't put much into what went on (Wednesday) night. It will make them stronger. The organization has done an admirable job in bringing awareness to the situation that went on so that other people can learn from it. It's gut-wrenching and I know that it reaches out to our guys in the locker room and the coaches that knew Luke and his family. We recognize what they're going through, but I think they do as well as we do know that it's an important hockey game for both teams (tonight)."

The Senators attended a public memorial on Wednesday at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place, then chartered a plane to play at Carolina.

Luke Richardson played 21 seasons in the NHL with Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay and Ottawa. He retired in 2008, finishing with 35 goals and 166 assists in 1,417 games.

"I don't think anyone can (understand), but you can imagine and it is probably worse than what you can imagine," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson told The Globe and Mail. "It's tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and hopefully they can cope with this as best as possible."

Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw was a teammate of Richardson's and attended the funeral.

- - -

The Blues, who need a boost in their lineup, will make a couple changes ahead of this home-and-home weekend set with the Senators tonight and New Jersey Devils tomorrow night.

It was likely to happen anyway, but Ty Conklin and Jaroslav Halak were expected to share the workload this weekend. Conklin will get the nod tonight ahead of the struggling Halak, who is 0-3-1 with a 5.46 GAA and an .800 save-percentage after beginning the season 8-1-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .944 save percentage.

Conklin was 0-6 during the regular season at Scotttrade Center a season ago, with his last start here being Feb. 4, 2010. His last 11 starts for the Blues have all come on the road.

"It's nice to get a start," Conklin said. "I haven't had too many starts here at home. It's been a while ... last year, I don't even know when. It'll be nice. But we need wins, man. We need to get points. We're stuck at the same number of points for a while. Get back on the board and get our game going the way we want it to."

"He's a guy who's there for that reason, to step in and give us that boost and give Jaro a chance to gain his footing again and put the past two performances behind him and get himself ready for the next one," Payne said of Conklin.

As for Halak?

"It's just a matter of addressing a couple things with Corey Hirsch and putting some work into today," Payne said. "He's a guy who knows how to reassert his game quite well."

Payne also said that the defensive pairings will "look a little different tonight." Also, Chris Porter will be back in, and Cam Janssen is the odd man out tonight.

The Blues also sent defenseman Nathan Oystrick back to Peoria.

"We want to give guys like (Nikita) Nikitin and (Tyson) Strachan ... who have been there and who have stepped in and played well ... we don't want them to dwell on their last mistakes for too long. We want to give them another crack to get right back in it. With that said, that takes Oystrick out of some playing action for a little bit of an extended period. With Peoria going tonight, we get him right back into game action."

The Blues have not beaten the Senators on home ice since the 2001-02 season, going 0-2-1 in that span.

- - -

The expected lines for tonight appear to be:

Andy McDonald-David Backes-Brad Boyes

Alex Steen-Patrik Berglund-Matt D'Agostini

Brad Winchester-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Vladimir Sobotka-T.J. Hensick-Chris Porter

The d-pairings are expected to include:

Eric Brewer-Alex Pietrangelo

Carlo Colaiacovo-Erik Johnson

Nikita Nikitin-Tyson Strachan

(earlier estimated d-pairing combos):

Eric Brewer-Erik Johnson

Nikita Nikitin-Alex Pietrangelo

Carlo Colaiacovo-Tyson Strachan

Ty Conklin
is in goal. He sports a 1-1-1 record with a 2.73 GAA and .898 save percentage.

- - -

The Senators, who last played in St. Louis in 2008-09, are expected to play the following lineup:

Peter Regin-Jason Spezza-Alex Kovalev

Milan Michalek-Mike Fisher-Daniel Alfredsson

Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil

Nick Foligno-Jesse Winchester-Ryan Shannon

Their d-pairings will likely include:

Matt Carkner-Chris Campoli

Chris Phillips-Sergei Gonchar

Erik Karlsson-Filip Kuba

Getting the nod in goal is Brian Elliott, who comes in with a 9-6-0 record and a 3.00 GAA and .909 save percentage. He was pulled from his last start after allowing four goals on 16 shots.

Senators line combinations per Scott MacArthur of Team 1200 radio.

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