Thursday, December 9, 2010

(12-9-10) Blue Jackets-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- With T.J. Oshie, David Perron and now Andy McDonald out of the lineup, where will the offense come from?

Of course, the Blues still boast a lineup that includes Brad Boyes, David Backes, Alex Steen and Patrik Berglund, but losing out three of your top point-getters at once can really cripple an offensively-challenged lineup.

So the Blues (13-9-4), who host the Columbus Blue Jackets (15-10-1) tonight at 7 (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), will do what they were able to do in Vancouver: chip in my committee.

Steen scored twice in that game, and Matt D'Agostini also potted a goal, his first in 12 games. Those are the guys that must pick up the slack until they can get some of the walking wounded back in the lineup.

"I don't think I put any more burden to pick up my game," D'Agostini said. "Ever since Perry and Osh went down, everyone knew that they had to pick it up. It's no different with Andy going out. This team's been going through a lot.

"If you look around the league, it's been happening to a lot of teams. It's just something you've got to deal with and it'll make us that much better when they get back."

Of course, there's also the guys that are looked at in a defensive or checking role that might need to add that extra kick to an offense that ranks 23rd overall in goals per game (2.46) and scored the second-fewest goals in the Western Conference (67) but are 12th overall in shots per game (31.4).

"We all have to pitch in when you have guys out," said center Jay McClement, who is goalless and pointless since Oct. 30. "Personally, I'd love to contribute more. ... At the same time, I don't want to give up what's expected of me. I'm not going to change the way I play, but we definitely need some more contributions around here.

"When we're playing well, we're not giving up a lot. We're not going to be cheating by any means. We need to play the same way. Even when we haven't been scoring, we get tons of chances."

It means Vladimir Sobotka fills in, Brad Winchester adds support and so forth.

"We've got to focus on that team game," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We've got to make sure support is great, we have to make sure our puck decisions are great. We have to make sure that limiting our opponents' opportunities is key for us. We're not in a position to trade back and forth. Our margins have shrunk a little bit here."
- - -

The Blues will not make any lineup changes tonight. They'll go with the same group that snapped a five-game winless skid during Sunday's 3-2 win at Vancouver.

Vladimir Sobotka-David Backes-Brad Boyes

Brad Winchester-Patrik Berglund-B.J. Crombeen

Alex Steen-Jay McClement-Matt D'Agostini

Stefan Della Rovere-Dave Scatchard-Cam Janssen

D-pairings feature:

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Ian Cole-Eric Brewer

Carlo Colaiacovo-Erik Johnson

Tyson Strachan is the lone healthy scratch tonight.

Jaroslav Halak, who is 1-1-1 in his career with a 3.62 goals-against average and .822 save percentage, gets the start in goal.

- - -

The Jackets snapped a 0-4-1 slide of their own with a 3-2 shootout victory over Dallas on Monday.

They'll roll out the following combinations:

Rick Nash-Antoine Vermette-Jakub Voracek

Nikita Filatov-Kyle Wilson-R.J. Umberger

Derek Dorsett-Sammy Pahlsson-Chris Clark

Ethan Moreau-Derek Brassard-Jared Boll

D-pairings feature:

Rostislav Klesla-Marc Methot

Mike Commodore-Kris Russell

Jan Hejda-Anton Stralman

Fedor Tyutin
will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game.

Mathieu Garon, who is 10-3-1 with a 2.55 GAA and .909 save percentage in his career against the Blues, gets the nod in goal for the Jackets.

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