Thursday, September 29, 2011

(9-29-11) Avalanche-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues still have some open looks available for their opening day roster, but for the first time this preseason, the lineup that will be as polished as its ever been.

The Blues (4-2-0) host the Colorado Avalanche (1-3-0) at 7 p.m. today (KMOX 1120-AM) and for the first time will roll out a lineup that will have a regular season opener flavor to it aside from goalie Jaroslav Halak and Jason Arnott (eye).

"We've got pretty much our group going here tonight," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "It's a good opportunity for them to get together and play together, drive our game and our pace and our execution levels together and make sure we're ready and prepared right off the start and make sure we put in that full 60. That's what we want."

That doesn't mean the roster is set yet.

"There's still some guys we want to take a look at, but (look at) in situations," Payne said.

One of those players is Russian Evgeny Grachev, who will not suit up tonight but could very well snag one of those extra forward positions.

"He's found ways to execute, he's found ways to play at pace," Payne said of Grachev. "He's been effective on the forecheck, he plays his game with his feet moving and he plays a vertical game. He's a big body that's tough to contain, he's got good offensive instincts. That's the kind of guy from a depth perspective is very valiable to have."

Ben Bishop gets the start in goal and Payne was asked if he can win the job with a strong performance tonight.

"I think we go in and evaluate the performance," Payne said.

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Scott Nichol, who scored in his first game with the Blues in Tuesday's 4-3 win at Minnesota, only played 7 minutes 35 seconds in the game but it's the kind of start he needed getting his skates on the ground running with the Blues.

"I thought he was very good," Payne said of Nichol. "He's a guy who in a checking kind of energy, fourth-line role, strong on faceoffs, strong decision-maker. ... Really kind of set our game with the one shift (the fourth line) had."

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The Blues didn't roll lines at practice this morning, as some of the players were not at the morning skate, so here is the tentative lineup:

Andy McDonald-David Backes-Jamie Langenbrunner

T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Alex Steen-Vladimir Sobotka-Matt D'Agostini

Ryan Reaves-Scott Nichol-B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Kent Huskins-Roman Polak

Ben Bishop starts in goal; Brian Elliott will be the backup.

The Avalanche lineup should be available on

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