Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blues' goal by Olympic break: top spot in division

Team trails Chicago by two points, turns focus to Carolina for game Friday

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues journeyed off to their final road destination before all teams will shut down for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. It will begin a stretch of five games in nine days.

After playing the Carolina Hurricanes (24-20-9) Friday night in Raleigh, the Blues (36-11-5) will play four straight at Scottrade Center with a purpose in mind.

They'll not only want to play well, but even though there will still be 25 games remaining in the regular season, having the lead in the Central Division is also a target in mind.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Jaden Schwartz (9) and the Blues will look to continue their three-game
winning streak Friday night in Carolina against the Hurricanes.

The Blues trail the Chicago Blackhawks, who have 79 points, by two in the standings but they also have four games in hand.

"It's been mentioned," defenseman Barret Jackman said. "That would be a great goal just going into the break, but it's all about how we play. We don't want to be playing OK hockey or average hockey and get where we want to be. We want to be competing hard, we want to be playing the right way and win every game you can but doing it the way we're going to have to after the break as well."

Heading into the break, the Blues will still have three games in hand. They'll play five, Chicago will play four. But if the Blues can take care of their own business, it would be a nice feat when players head to Sochi to be on top looking down.

"We're going to lose some of those games that we have in hand right now," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "I think that's what we focus on is staying on the pace that we've been going at all year. That'll get us to first place. We know that.

"It's important to us, but I think more importantly, we want to keep going in the right direction as a team. However the standings shake out after the break, that's what's going to be more important."

The Blues will play back-to-back games beginning Friday at Carolina. They play host to the Nashville Predators Saturday night, but as they've been good at doing all season, focusing on the opponent at hand is crucial. And the Hurricanes remind coach Ken Hitchcock of a similar opponent.

"They play the game very similar to what Dallas plays," Hitchcock said of the Hurricanes. "They've got great speed and structure in their game and they play with tempo. Us getting up to speed early, we're going to need a really fast practice tomorrow. I want to really have a fast practice with a lot of tempo in it just to get our minds ready for the speed of that game because it'll be one of the fastest teams we play against. They've taken games over with that speed and tenacity that they have up front. Each of their lines has a strong identity.

"Obviously they're playing great now. They're really playing well. They've got great tempo, great speed up front. Their transition game is about as fast as anybody in the league, very similar to Dallas quite frankly."

The Blues won the only meeting between the two teams when they played at Scottrade Center on Nov. 16, winning 4-2 on a goal and assist each from Alexander Steen and Roman Polak.

"I don't think we saw (Jeff) Skinner when we played them so that's just another dynamic player who can put pucks in the net," Shattenkirk said. "I think more importantly, they're a team that plays really well at home. They have a great crowd, they get a lot of energy from their crowd. Anything we can kind of go to limit that momentum that they seem to generate there is going to be important."

"They've got some big, skilled forwards ... the Staal brothers (Eric and Jordan), (Alexander) Semin and Skinner," Jackman said. "He's not big, but he's shifty and works hard. He's kind of like a Schwartz-type player. These guys feed off transition, they feed off of the rush. We've got limit turnovers and kind of play the way we did against Jersey the other night and make them play defense."

The Blues spent Thursday before leaving the Raleigh working on puck management, particularly from their own zone. The practice was brisk that often had a fast pace.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
T.J. Oshie (right) skates into position when the Blues faced Carolina at
home on Nov. 16. The Blues won 4-2 and play in Carolina Friday.

"A lot of today were exits," Hitchcock said. "First, under no pressure, then under limited pressure, then under full pressure. We need to be better at that. I think if we're better on our exits and better on our counters, we're going to get back to eliminating scoring chances. The last game was the first game in six games that we allowed single-digit scoring chances (since) the game in Vancouver. It was nice to get back on task where we're not allowing so many quality scoring opportunities that we have in the last few games.

"I think the teams that beat (Carolina) match the pace early in the game. I think they're a team that sets the tempo early and makes you react and if you're not ready for the pace of the game, they skate so well, both back and front. They've got a lot of really good transitional players. They've got guys like Faulk and Hainsey and now they've got Liles on the back end. They've got a lot of guys that get up in the play and they've got the forwards with great speed, those three lines. For us, it's don't be behind. That's why a lot of things we did today were specifically for tomorrow to make sure that our feet were moving and we're up to the pace hopefully."

* NOTES -- As was reported Wednesday, Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal against the Hurricanes. Brian Elliott will get the home start against Nashville. As for the remaining three games before the break, Hitchcock said "I'll have to sleep on those."

. . . Practice lines Thursday included Jaden Schwartz, David Backes and Chris Stewart; Vladimir Sobotka, Derek Roy and Vladimir Tarasenko; Magnus Paajarvi, Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie; Brenden Morrow, Maxim Lapierre and Ryan Reaves. Steen did not practice again, as he's nursing a lower-body injury but he will be good to play, as has been the case the past two games.

Hitchcock wouldn't commit to a lineup, but with Stewart skating in Steen's spot on the top line, he could be scratched Friday, as was Reaves on Tuesday. Reaves had been skating in Steen's spot and did not play against the New Jersey Devils.

Defensive pairings included the same as Tuesday's game, and that would indicate Ian Cole will stay in Friday with Roman Polak, with Jordan Leopold and Carlo Colaiacovo as scratches. But Hitchcock did say Wednesday that Leopold will play "at some point this weekend."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flexibility allowing Hitchcock to move forwards around

Blues haven't gone back to line that brought them 
offensive success early in season to offer balance throughout

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When Ken Hitchcock needed offense early in the season, the Blues' coach was able to rely on a top line that featured Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie.

The trio was producing points at a career pace, and the chemistry developed among the three is as good as any in the league.

But injuries forced some changes and movement was inevitable. In recent weeks as both Backes and Steen have returned from injury, Hitchcock has chosen to keep only two of the three together.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Jaden Schwartz (9) and David Backes (42) celebrate
with teammate Alexander Steen after a goal.

Steen and Backes remain together, but Oshie is providing key play on another line with the Swedish connection of Patrik Berglund and Magnus Paajarvi.

Jaden Schwartz has given strong play with Backes and Steen, and the flexibility that Oshie provides is giving Hitchcock plenty of options.

"Oshie can play left, center, right," Hitchcock said. "He can play in a checking role, he can play in an offensive role. Oshie's the guy that provides us with flexibility. Jaden's still learning to play the whole thing. ... It's a very unique line because it's a line that has skill, but its major attribute is its work ethic. When the line is really successful, they are a constant threat to create the 2-on-1 game.

"Depending on the game, depending on the score, that's the flexibility that we work with. We did it in the island (against the New York Islanders), we did it a couple shifts against the (New York) Rangers. I think you're going to see constant movement there all year. I really liked Berglund's line (Tuesday). Berglund's line was excellent yesterday. It's the whole line. When you play with that type of tempo and that type of speed and you're willing to take the puck to the net like they were yesterday, it's a really effective line. I really liked the line yesterday, but there comes a time in the game where if they're getting played with weight and size, then probably Oshie goes in there (with Steen and Backes). But it's going to be based on feel and changing it up sometimes. It's going to be Oshie and Schwartz that change. Schwartz might play with Sobe and Vlad (Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko), he might play with Bergy. But there's going to be some flexibility there."

Steen is still working on getting back to the pace of production that was coming seemingly every game before suffering the concussion and most recently, a lower-body injury that he's been able to play through. After scoring his team-leading 27th goal in a 3-0 win Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, Steen collected his seventh point (three goals) in the past five games.

"To be honest, I'm expecting more of myself," Steen said. "I think there's a few notches to get to where I was. I'm trying, but I still feel like there's a couple more notches in my game."

The Blues' ability to move parts they consider interchangeable makes player movement easy to do. And by moving Schwartz into a top-line role for the time being allows the Blues (36-11-5) to keep a well-balanced lineup each game.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock calls T.J. Oshie (pictured) the
team's player that provides flexibility.

"On this team though, you're bound to play with different guys at different times," Schwartz said. "I think I've played with everyone on our team this year at some point, but definitely playing with those two guys right now, it's a lot of fun but (Hitchcock) can switch that up as quickly as he put it together. I want to make sure I'm doing my job. I played with them last year, so I'm pretty familiar with them.

"It's nice playing with the same linemates, getting more familiar with them, but at the same time when things aren't working, switching it up can sometimes spark a team. Whoever I'm playing with, I don't want to change how I'm playing. There's a lot of good players on this team and they're fun to play with. At the end of the day, I don't think it really matters who I'm playing with. Or doesn't really change the way I want to play."

* NOTES -- With options at his disposal, there were grumblings among Blues fans as to why enforcer Ryan Reaves was a healthy scratch Tuesday against the Devils. And there was fuel to the fire added when the two teams engaged in some chippy play at times throughout the game, particularly with the Blues' Roman Polak and the Devils' Ryane Clowe, who got into a brief scuffle that saw Clowe land an uppercut to Polak quickly.

However, look for players to come in and out of the lineup from now until the Olympic break, including defenseman Jordan Leopold, who Hitchcock said will play at some point this weekend with back-to-back games at Carolina Friday and Nashville at home Saturday.

"There's going to be movement every game," Hitchcock said. "Unless it's based on poor play, other guys are going to sit out. Other guys are going to play and other guys are going to sit out. 

"Unless it's based on poor play, we're going to use everybody to the end of the break to keep everybody fresh. It's not going to make some players unhappy, but it's going to keep the team energized. Revo's going to get right back in, Leo's going to get right back in, other guys are going to sit out. We've got five games in nine days, which is a lot of hockey, and we're going to try and bring as much energy and good play as we can. ... Any of these guys that hit the wall, we want them to press the reset button and get playing again."

Both goalies will split the weekend games, with Jaroslav Halak playing against the Hurricanes and Brian Elliott getting the nod at home against the Predators.

Halak is 7-1-1 in his past nine starts with a 1.77 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. He's won his past four starts and has a 1.23 GAA and .957 save percentage in those games.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blues gain redemption with 3-0 shutout of Devils

Halak stops 23 shots; team avenges 7-1 drubbing in 
New Jersey a week ago, moves into tie for Central Division lead

ST. LOUIS -- Last week against the New Jersey Devils, both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak couldn't keep a puck out of their net.

The Blues couldn't do anything right, and it resulted in the worst loss of the season (7-1) in New Jersey.

Tuesday night, redemption came in the form of a shutout, as the Devils couldn't get any of their 23 shots past Halak.

Alexander Steen, Brenden Morrow and Maxim Lapierre took care of the scoring, the Blues' defensive structure and Halak took care of the rest in a 3-0 win against the Devils Tuesday night at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) is congratulated by teammate Barret
Jackman after shutting out the New Jersey Devils 3-0 Tuesday night.

The Blues (36-11-5) were able to blanket the Devils (22-21-11), who made seemingly every Blues mistake last week turn into a goal. New Jersey chased Elliott after he allowed three goals on nine shots. Halak was no better, allowing four goals on 14 shots.

"It was a really weird game we played in Jersey," said Halak, who earned his fourth shutout this season, 29th of his career and a franchise-record 20th with the Blues. "Everything seemed like it went in. Everything they touched seemed like a scoring chance. We just couldn't react. We were standing there.

"I can speak for myself hoping that the game was over after the second period. Tonight was a different game. We knew we had to adjust."

The Blues adjusted accordingly, despite some tense times when the Devils would force turnovers and move out in transition. But what the Blues couldn't do last week, they were able to do precisely Tuesday, and that was keep the Devils on the perimeter and not allow much ice with the puck between the circles.

"I think we just played our style of game," Steen said. "We got away from that in New Jersey. I think it was a completely different game. 

"Jaro came up big when we made mistakes tonight. Credit to him, he played a heck of a game for us."

The Blues moved into a tie for first place in the Central Division with the Chicago Blackhawks, who lost 5-4 at Calgary in overtime late Tuesday night.

The Devils got 22 saves from Cory Schneider, but New Jersey was shut out for the sixth time this season.

Steen's 27th of the season put the Blues up 1-0 on their first shot of the game, an odd-man 3-on-2 rush that was set up by David Backes and Jaden Schwartz, who laid a puck off to Steen and he beat Schneider with a wrister from the slot on the short side 3:25 into the game.

The game-winner was Steen's seventh this season in 41 games. He had six the previous two seasons combined in 83 games.

"I think all three of us kind of realized how that was developing," Steen said of his 100th goal as a Blue. "Backes made a great play, kicked it out and drove them back a little bit. Schwartz found me in the slot."

The Blues outshot the Devils 9-8 in the first period, and Halak had to make one key save on Steve Bernier after he skated in alone with 5:48 remaining after a bouncing puck got past Ian Cole.

Neither team could score in the second period, but the Blues had the best chance when Vladimir Sobotka wired a shot off the left post off another odd-man rush. This time, he moved in from the right on a 3-on-1 with 4:48 remaining in the period.

Halak was tested a couple times, as the Devils outshot the Blues 10-5 in the period. Halak's best save came off a backhand rebound off the stick of Jaromir Jagr.

"Especially in the second period, they went a little stretch without shots, but after that, they started shooting more," Halak said. "When they had the chances, they were shooting. I was able to stay sharp tonight and stop the pucks, but tonight was a lot of great blocks from all the guys and a huge performance."

Halak's right pad stop on Damien Brunner 2:25 into the third period preserved the Blues' lead, then Schneider came up big on a Vladimir Tarasenko one-timer with 7:36 left in the game to keep the Devils within one goal.

Both teams had three power play opportunities, and the Blues struck on their third when Morrow's 560th career point gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead. Jay Bouwmeester stepped into a slap shot from the right point, and Morrow deflected it past Schneider from the low slot 9:22 into the third period.

The timeliness of Morrow's goal came at an opportune time with the Blues trying to fend off the Devils' push late.

"They've won a lot of hockey games and they've had some players roll through there, but Lou's got his guys that he believes in," Morrow said of the Devils and their general manager Lou Lamoriello. "They've got some guys that have been there a long time. They're not going to crack. You can play them as hard as you want. They're going to stay with their structure. A one-goal game on them's pretty tough.

"Some of them are lucky. That was definitely a lucky (goal) more than anything. I didn't really see it. I just put a stick out where I thought it may end up and it ended up hitting it."

Lapierre's empty-netter with 2:08 gave the Blues a 3-0 lead and their third straight win after the debacle at 'The Rock' last week.

"Both teams went at each other pretty hard," Hitchcock said. "I thought the third period was our best period. They play structured, disciplined hockey with a lot of weight. You have to be prepared to dig in from the dots to the boards if you expect to beat them. They control the boards, they control the tempo of the game by controlling the boards. They make you pay for being careless with the puck. 
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Blues center Derek Roy (12) checks New Jersey's Bryce Salvador into the
boards in action Tuesday night at Scottrade Center.

"We had some just-abouts early in the game when we weren't ready for that they were doing, but after as the game word on, we got more and more prepared to skate with the puck. As we started to skate, things really started to open up for us in the third period, which was a good sign."

Halak, who is 7-1-1 in his past nine starts with a 1.77 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, credits his teammates.

"It's always nice to get a shutout, but I always say that two points is two points and it's always a team effort," Halak said. "Without my teammates tonight blocking the shots and doing the little things in front, I wouldn't be able to get it."

The Blues improved to 30-1-3 when scoring first, 21-0-2 when leading after one period and 24-0-3 when leading after two periods.

(1-28-14) Devils-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The message was sent to Chris Stewart. In a way, it's a similar scenario when he was benched two seasons ago when the Blues' power forward wasn't playing up to potential.

Stewart, who played only 5 minutes 32 seconds in Saturday's 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders, has one assist in eight games and is a minus-5 in the past 10 games.

Stewart will line up as a fourth-line right wing today when the Blues (35-11-5) play host to the New Jersey Devils (22-20-11) at 7 p.m. (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM)

"It's obviously a message," Stewart said Tuesday after the morning skate. "So, the message has been delivered and it's how you respond. I can't worry about who I'm playing (with) or all that other stuff. I have to worry about what I can control, and that's how I play. So I have to stick with it here and try to raise my level of play."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who has 23 players at his disposal, has been asked the past two days whether Stewart, who has 15 goals and 25 points in 51 games, is a candidate to be a healthy scratch ... just like two seasons ago. Hitchcock said not yet, but based on the limited number of minutes in this recent stretch, it can't be far off unless Stewart becomes a more consistent player.

"Just north, a north game. Not east-west," Hitchcock said when asked what he's looking for from Stewart. "Stay focused in what your strengths are. Don't try to force offense. 

"I think sometimes when you have skill people and they're not getting opportunities, they force offense and it ends up being worse. Just stay on the north concept and things will work out fine."

Magnus Paajarvi, a healthy scratch Saturday, will come back into the lineup tonight, which means Hitchcock has a decision to make who will sit.

Ryan Reaves has been taking shifts on the top line the past two days based on Alexander Steen's unavailability to practice because of a toe fracture. Steen will play tonight, and although Hitchcock wouldn't reveal who will sit, it appears Reaves is the candidate based on the Devils not rostering an enforcer-type of a player.

- - -

The Blues had a short memory after their last encounter with the Devils.

However, they had no choice but to be given a stern reminder that the worst loss of the season the Blues suffered at the hands of the Devils exactly one week ago. But instead of having revenge on their minds, the Blues must look at it more as redemption when the two teams meet for the second and final time this season tonight at Scottrade Center.

The Devils, coming off a 7-3 loss of their own to the New York Rangers Sunday at Yankee Stadium as part of the Coors Light Stadium Series, embarrassed the Blues 7-1 in the only loss the Blues suffered on their recent four-game trip.

Instead of completely forgetting about it and wiping the slate clean, the Blues will get their chance at redemption quickly.

"The way the game went, it wasn't very good on our half," Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "It's kind of rare that you do get them so close together, but we're looking to have a much better effort.

"We were guilty of a lot of things, turning pucks over, not forechecking and that sort of thing. It all goes hand in hand. They've got skilled guys. They're a big team. They play down low and they look for that transition. We've got to be much better 5-on-5 and our penalty kill wasn't very good either."

The Devils chased Brian Elliott from goal in the first period last week, and they built a 2-0 lead less than three minutes into the game and never looked back. The Blues would go on to recover in victories against the Rangers and New York Islanders, but coach Ken Hitchcock said the Blues need to be more responsible with the puck. 

"Obvious for us, puck management," Hitchcock said. "We got into a track meet and stumbled around and turned way too many pucks over and that gave them ... they're a very good rush-attack team. They're very smart, they've got great patience with the puck. If you give them opportunities, 3-on-2's or whatever, they're going to burn you."

Hitchcock added: "We recovered nicely. Other than Detroit, we had slow starts in the other games, but really recovered nicely in New York against the Rangers and then against the Islanders, I thought the third period was the best period we played on the whole road trip. All in all, if you look at the record, 3-1 is pretty good. But now as I said to the players, five of the next six are at home. We have a chance to catch Chicago for the division lead now. It's right in front of us. We've just got to play well and take advantage of it."

- - -

Once again, the Blues got energy from their fourth line players after falling behind 2-0 in Saturday's come-from-behind win against the Islanders.

Led by Maxim Lapierre, Reaves and Brenden Morrow, when the Blues needed a boost, the energy and grind line provided the spark that resulted in a shootout victory.

"We were taking pride in that," Lapierre said. "We want to be ready the first shift and bring a lot of energy. You don't have to go and hit everybody. Just maybe have some traffic at the net and shoot the puck and maybe bring some speed. That's our game plan. We always want to be really strong on the first shift.

"When you see a line that hits and brings energy, it gets everybody going. When the fourth line goes, you can play them a little more and it gives guys a little rest and they're a little more energized to go on the ice."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-David Backes-Alexander Steen

Vladimir Sobotka-Derek Roy-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie

Brenden Morrow-Maxim Lapierre-Chris Stewart

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole-Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal. Brian Elliott is the backup.

Healthy scratches include Jordan Leopold, Carlo Colaiacovo and Ryan Reaves.

- - -

The Devils' projected lineup:

Jacob Josefson-Travis Zajac-Jaromir Jagr

Dainius Zubrus-Patrik Elias-Damien Brunner

Ryane Clowe-Adam Henrique-Michael Ryder

Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier

Andy Greene-Mark Fayne

Bryce Salvador-Marek Zidlicky

Eric Gelinas-Anton Volchenkov

Cory Schneider will start in goal. Martin Brodeur will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Andrei Loktionov and Jon Merrill. Peter Harrold (foot) is on injured reserve.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Ryan Miller update; Blues to get revenge 
against Devils; Halak to start; Steen OK to go

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Rumors that the Buffalo Sabres will move goalie Ryan Miller between now and the March 5 trade deadline appear to have plenty of merit. But to say a move is imminent is premature, including one that could potentially involve the Blues.

Miller, 33, is an unrestricted free agent this summer and could improve the Blues' chances if dealt to St. Louis, but with Miller being a $6.25 million cap hit, it would take more than just moving a goalie (Jaroslav Halak) to make a deal work. The Blues would need to move another higher salary player in order to get under the $64.3 million cap.

Halak and Elliott are both unrestricted free agents as well, and since signing him to a four-year contract when they acquired him from the Montreal Canadiens, Halak has yet to have a full playoff under his belt in St. Louis. The Blues could very well go into the postseason and see what Halak has to offer.

Halak suffered a high ankle sprain in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against San Jose two seasons ago on a collision with teammate Barret Jackman, and of course, he suffered a pair of groin injuries in the lockout-shortened season last year. Elliott played the bulk of the playoff games the past two seasons but was beaten by Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings both seasons.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is normally tight-lipped regarding any sorts of talks (trade, free agency, etc) and there have been no indications that he and new Sabres GM Tim Murray have had any kind of discussions regarding Miller.

If the Blues are engaged in any discussions regarding Miller, Armstrong would likely want assurances that Miller, 13-20-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .926 save percentage this season, will sign an extension before making a deal.

If he hasn't done so already, Miller will at some point sit down with his GM and discuss which direction the Sabres are going in and if an extension for the only team he has ever known is in the cards for Miller.

* Devil revenge -- The Blues (35-11-5) won't have to wait long to avenge their worst loss of the season when the New Jersey Devils (invade Scottrade Center for a Tuesday night game. It was the Devils that handed the Blues a 7-1 pasting in New Jersey one week ago, which was the Blues' lone loss on their recent four-game trip. There won't be a revenge-minded attitude towards the game.

"No, it's a 'play-better' factor," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "You can have all the revenge you want; we've got to play better. They just ate us up when we didn't manage the puck well. If we manage the puck well, we'll be fine. We got a lot better against the Rangers with it, very successful in the second and third period, and then really played well in the second and third against the Islanders when we did it. New Jersey's such a good counter-attack team. They're so good at making you pay for mistakes because they can make plays and score off the rush. We need to have one of the best puck management games we've had in a long time if we expect to beat them."

* Halak goes again -- Halak, 3-0-0 with a 1.63 goals against average and a .947 save percentage in his past three starts, will get a third consecutive start Tuesday and fourth in five games.

Halak came on in relief of Brian Elliott in the loss to the Devils last week and is 5-1-0 since returning from a lengthy bout with the flu.

"We're just going to ride the hot one and see how far we can go with it," Hitchcock said.

* Steen sits, will play vs. Devils -- Alexander Steen (broken toe) took Monday off as a maintenance day and will be available to play Tuesday, according to Hitchcock. In practice Monday, fourth-line right wing Ryan Reaves took Steen's spot on the top line with David Backes and Jaden Schwartz.

"I'm sure it's not a long-term thing, but it was fun," Reaves joked. "It was a little different having to go first and make sure you don't screw up the drill rather than watching the boys screw it up first. It was a little different.

"I was trying to run plays for (Backes), making sure I was in the right spots and making sure he was in the right spots where I wanted him."

When told Reaves said his presence on the top line is not long term, Hitchcock replied: "I would say that's really accurate."

* Forward lineup -- With Magnus Paajarvi coming back into the lineup Tuesday after being a healthy scratch Saturday, Hitchcock hadn't decided which forward will be a healthy scratch Tuesday. Chris Stewart played only 5 minutes 32 seconds of Saturday's win and was on the ice for two Islanders goals, and he was taking shifts on the fourth line with Maxim Lapierre and Brenden Morrow. Stewart has just one assist in the past eight games but Hitchcock said he'll remain in the lineup Tuesday.

Paajarvi finally finding his niche with Blues

Winger acquired for David Perron seeing 
confidence grow as minutes, responsibilities increase

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When Blues coach Ken Hitchcock made out his lineup for Saturday's 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Islanders, he admitted that he may have erred in judgment.

"He didn't deserve to come out the last game, but somebody had to, and it was my decision to make the change," Hitchcock said Monday of winger Magnus Paajarvi, who was a healthy scratch. "But he's going right back in tomorrow. He deserves to play. He's played really well."

Paajarvi, 22, is still a bit of a mystery to Blues fans and even to their coaches. This is the player the Blues acquired when they shipped David Perron to Edmonton.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Magnus Paajarvi (56) has been showing glimpses in recent weeks why the
Blues acquired him from Edmonton this past summer.
Perron leads the Oilers with 22 goals and has 39 points in 51 games. Compared to Paajarvi's four goals and six points in 31 games, on paper it looks like a landslide deal for Edmonton, at least in the present time.

But the Blues know this trade was made for the long-term effect. Paajarvi is in his fourth season, and in his rookie campaign in 2009-10 as a 19-, 20-year-old player, scored 15 goals and totaled 34 points in 80 games.

Paajarvi only played in 83 combined games the past two seasons and scored 11 goals with 13 assists. The run-and-gun Oilers, who drafted Paajarvi 10th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, gave up on him.

"What we kind of thought we were getting, we didn't necessarily get," Hitchcock said of Paajarvi. "We found a different player. I think we're getting used to seeing how good he is off the rush. He takes the puck to the net, he makes plays, he's got great speed, he's got great timing. I think as a rush-attack player, he's a lot better than we thought. I think the other part that thought he was a third line checker, I think he's got more in his game. We're going to have to bring him along and develop it. But I really like the way he is on the rush. He really makes good plays with the puck."

The Blues still saw Paajarvi as a project and after a slower than usual start, the Swedish native has picked up his game. He's averaged nearly 13 minutes of ice time in the past three games and playing with skill guys will only increase his ice time.

"I've got way more confidence now," Paajarvi said. "I feel once I'm out there, I feel comfortable and I feel like I know what I want to do out there. When I'm doing that, I'm even a better player and confident. It's nice.

"I consider myself an offensive player. I've always been that. I realize what team I'm on and where I come from. I had a different role in Edmonton than here, that's for sure. I'm going to work my way through here hopefully. I feel better the longer things go. The guys have been great, the coaches have been great to me. Honestly, right now I feel really good."

Paajarvi has been most noticeable in recent weeks, when his ice time has increased and his role with more prominent players has also increased.

"He's using his skating much more. I think he's trusting it more," said Paajarvi's teammate and fellow Swede Patrik Berglund. "I think it was just a little uncomfortable at first. He was in and out of the lineup and after a while, he played games there and he got comfortable. It takes a while to build up that confidence. He's a very good player and I'm excited to play with him. I think we've been having good chemistry. Hopefully, we can stay together and build on it.

"I think he's just found his way to be more successful with his skating and taking it deep. He's got a good shot. He can shoot more off the rush."

Paajarvi was on the outside looking in at the start of the season and when he got a chance, he suffered an injured sternum on Oct. 26 at Nashville that forced him to the sidelines for three weeks.

"He had a great start, got hurt and had a tough time getting through the injury," Hitchcock said of Paajarvi. "He's back where he first started here and he's a very effective player and I think quite frankly against the Islanders, we missed him a lot. We'll get him back in tomorrow and get him playing."

Paajarvi lined up with Berglund and T.J. Oshie Monday at practice, and he's been able  to take advantage of recent injuries. He was getting minutes on the fourth line but he's better suited playing with people that can get him the puck in open space where he can utilize his speed.

"I've conversations with coaches and I've had talks with Swedes on the team, which makes you feel more comfortable talking your own language," Paajarvi said. "It makes things easier. That's huge, and for me, it's huge. Hopefully, it's all coming together now."
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Magnus Paajarvi (56) tries to score on a wraparound in a recent game vs.
the Montreal Canadiens. 

Getting in and out of the lineup has been an adjustment, but Paajarvi's patience has seemed to pay off.  

"It's a good and it's a hard thing," Paajarvi said. "But it really develops you. For me, it's been really tough for me mentally the last two, three years. I've been way better mentally. That's the biggest thing. You need to handle the mental part of it. It is hard, but at the same time, it really gives you a lot if you're willing to do it.

"I'm not saying I had a bad time or anything in Edmonton, but when you lose, you lose. It doesn't matter how, and it's really hard. I can only imagine what they're going through now. I know how hard it is, and I really appreciate what we have here."

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Blues searching to find consistency away from home; 
facing a familiar foe; Steen comes back; Lapierre close to returning

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- A day after being humbled by the Anaheim Ducks, one of  the top teams in the NHL, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had a common theme to what needs improving for his team that begins a four-game trip Monday night in a familiar place.

"It's everything. It's the connection to checking. It's puck management that goes with checking, it's back-checking that goes with checking, it's forechecking that goes with checking. It's every aspect of checking," Hitchcock said, using "checking" a lot. "It's the puck pursuit, it's the back-checking pursuit, it's the stopping on pucks, it's everything connected to checking. 

"When you're not 100 percent against really good teams, that kind of pops its head. It's close, but for us to win, we've got to have everybody engaged and in the last two games, we haven't had enough of that engagement from our lineup and it showed some cracks and we ended up getting scored on. Look at the first goal against (Saturday), there's a checking assignment by four people on a faceoff and we're light on four coverages and it's in our net. You look at the second goal against, it's poor puck management ... boom, in our net. Those are things that have got to get cleaned up. We're just giving up way too many scoring chances quite frankly, and so we're not able to establish the tempo in our game like we usually do."

When the Blues, who trailed the Ducks 3-0 going into the third period, changed some line combinations around, things swung towards the betterment of their play. But chasing against the top team in the NHL wasn't the best idea.

"You're throwing stuff against the wall and hope it sticks," Hitchcock said of the line changes. "... We were playing too slow. We had no tempo in our game and then when we switched up, we had a lot of tempo in our game in the third period. 

"I don't know if that's because they got tired, back-to-back or we got them on their heels and they couldn't get off, but we had more tempo in our game. I don't know if we can play it that way. We're going to have to include more people in the game because we almost played two lines there at the end. You're not going to win playing two lines. We'll use some of the two-man combinations. We liked them, then hopefully we can get more people engaged and ready to go."

Now that the Blues have gotten healthy again and are at near full strength, with the exception of Maxim Lapierre (lower-body injury) who is close, one would think that the game should come at an easier pace. 

Perhaps that's what is part of the problem.

"I think that's normal. You let your foot off the accelerator," Hitchcock said. "You think, 'Well, this shot could be easier or maybe they could do it.' I think that's natural. I think that's exactly what happened. When we're missing guys, I don't want to say we almost played scared, but we were scared not to be outworked, so we worked like crazy. We did the things that needed to be done. Now that we've got guys back, we're kind of leaving it up to them and they're not ready. They're not up to speed, they're not ready so we're going to have to engage that again.

"This really magnified the areas of the game that we've got to get better. We're going to have to do it through talking because we don't have a chance to practice. We've got four games starting tomorrow. I think this is a real eye opener for what we need to work on from our team."

* Rivalry renewed -- The Blues (32-10-5), who play against the Detroit Red Wings (21-17-10) Monday night in only one of only two meetings this season, will face one of their former rivals as inter-conference opponents.

The Blues and Red Wings, who are uncharacteristically just 7-10-7 at Joe Louis Arena, have been divisional rivals for years upon years, but when the NHL moved the Red Wings to the Eastern Conference this season, it took away the typical scheduling of seeing the Red Wings anywhere from six to eight games a season.

"I'm disappointed by that," Hitchcock said. "I can't say it any other simpler way. I'm disappointed. I think the St. Louis-Detroit rivalry, to me, is cast in stone and I think it's a rivalry that everybody in St. Louis loves and I know Detroit likes it, too. It's disappointing."

Hitchcock and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who will be on the same side come Olympic time when the two will be coaching Canada, will oppose each other on this night. The Red Wings don't visit St. Louis until the final day of the regular season on April 13.

"He's not my buddy during competition," Hitchcock joked about Babcock. "He'll be my buddy for two weeks (in Sochi). After that, I don't like him.

"They're a perfect example of missing a bunch of players and working their tails off. They work like crazy. They outwork everybody. Now they're starting to get guys back. They'll have a couple guys back for our game. It'll be a good challenge. I think anytime we play Detroit, they're great hockey games."

Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal against the Red Wings. Halak stopped 27 of 30 shots in a loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, but had stopped 53 of 54 shots in winning two in a row after coming back with a bad bout of the flu.

* Steen's first game back -- Alexander Steen returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 19, a span of 11 games, after suffering the second concussion of his career.

Steen, who was help scoreless and without a point in the 3-2 loss to the Ducks, played 20 minutes 56 seconds and registered four shots and won five of eight faceoffs.

Not bad for missing roughly a month, but ... 

"I felt I didn't play very well," Steen said. "Conditioning and physically, I was fine. I just didn't play well. I didn't think I played well, an all-around game ... from my offensive game to my defensive game, how I usually play, the level I usually play at. I didn't think I was even close.

"I'm not over-analyzing (Saturday). Just got to be better ... everything, all-around."

Steen said the team game Saturday wasn't what it normally is.

"I thought we were quiet ... way more quiet that we usually are in games like that," Steen said. "Anaheim played a good, hard-fought game. We sort of eased into it, came back into it in the third, but it was a little too late."

* Lapierre close to returning? -- Speaking of Lapierre, who has missed three games since being injured on a hip check from former teammate Dan Hamhuis Jan. 10 at Vancouver, he was on the ice with half the team skating prior to taking off for Detroit.

Lapierre has mostly been working off-ice but was part of drills Sunday after skating with the team during a pre-practice session Wednesday.

"It's still a little sore, but hopefully, try to get back into it as soon as possible," Lapierre said. "Working slowly on it every day and as long as there's progress every day, we're going to be happy. ... I just tried to keep up with the pace and I think we're pretty happy with where we are. As long as I can improve, we're going to be happy.

"You always want to be a part of the team. It doesn't matter if you win or lose. I think you win and lose as a team. It's tough to watch that from the press box. I wish I could do my best to help the guys, but we've got a lot of character in this dressing room. We're kind of in the middle of the storm right now, but I don't think the storm is as big as we think. We lost two games and we're (still) in a great position. We just have to delete what happened last weekend and play the way we can."

Lapierre's absence has affected the Blues, not only in the minutes played by the fourth line, but it's added more time and pressure and has exerted the top lines.

"I think it takes away from our pursuit game," Hitchcock said of Lapierre's absence. "He's really good on the forecheck. He's really good at energizing the fourth line. We miss him."

Could a return against Detroit be in the works?

"We'll skate him full tomorrow and then see how he looks at the skate tomorrow," Hitchcock said.

Once Lapierre returns, the Blues will have to make a corresponding move to their roster.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Same script, outcome for Blues in 3-2 loss to Ducks

St. Louis falls to 1-7 against California 
teams with similar result against quality opponent 

ST. LOUIS -- After another puzzling defeat against an elite team, the Blues are starting once again left to wonder where do they go from here.

Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, Nick Bonino had a pair of assists, and Frederik Andersen stopped 34 shots and improved to 12-2-0 in his rookie season for the Anaheim Ducks, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead before holding off the Blues 3-2 Saturday night before 19,910 at Scottrade Center. 

The Ducks (37-9-5) are 19-2-0 in their past 21 games and have beaten the Blues (32-10-5) twice this season at home.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Alexander Steen (left) returned to the Blues' lineup but the Ducks' Corey
Perry (right) made sure it was a somber night in a 3-2 Anaheim victory.

But this latest loss to the Ducks has followed a disturbing pattern for the Blues against a number of elite teams: start slow, fall behind early, make a push and give fans a false sense of hope and skate away with nothing to show for it.

The game was on the plate to be had Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, but the Kings made the necessary push in the third period and won 4-1. It's happened often this season, particularly against the three California teams (also the San Jose Sharks).

Coach Ken Hitchcock and his team are at a loss for words after another game in which the Blues allowed the opposition to set the tempo early and get established.

"When you're getting behind, you're allowing the other team to set the tempo," Hitchcock said. "You're on your heels, they're on their toes. Happened again tonight, on our heels. 

"It's really just the same movie, different day. We're going to have to figure out a way to fix it. ... We're going to have to have better starts, we're going to have to have more people engaged, we're going to have to play on our toes. Can't beat good teams playing on your heels. That's what we did. On our heels, quiet."

The Blues, who came into the game Saturday on a 10-2-1 run, dropped back-to-back regulation games for the second time this season, and both sets have come against California teams. The Blues are 1-for-California this season, a combined 1-7-0 against the Ducks, Sharks and Kings. Those teams have outscored the Blues 31-19.

"We talk about listless first two periods where they're down our throats making us make plays we don't want to and capitalizing on their chances while we are kind of disjointed and discombobulated all over the place," Blues captain David Backes said. "We're concentrating on what we've got in here, what we're bringing to the table. 

"We've seen it before. We're a force to be reckoned with, but we need that sort of effort from everybody, myself first."

Before this recent four-game stretch in which the Blues have six goals over 12 periods, they scored 21 goals in four games, winning all four of those games and scoring five-plus goals in each game. 

Barret Jackman and Jaden Schwartz scored third-period goals to get the Blues close. St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott made 18 saves, but his 13-game home winning streak came to an end. Elliott's last loss at Scottrade Center came in a 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks on April 14, 2013.

The Blues' late push is another all-too-familiar script. 

Getzlaf, Beleskey and Fowler put Anaheim up 3-0 half way through the game. It's the sixth time against California teams the Blues have fallen behind by 3-0 or more.

"We haven't had good first periods in any of those games and it's costly," Jackman said. "We're not moving our feet, we're not getting the energy up. We did in the third period there. You're not moving your feet, you're checking with your eyes and you're not creating any space for guys with the puck. We weren't working together, we weren't communicating, just doing a lot of little things that we've been so good at throughout the year. You dig yourself a 3-0 hole is never a good thing, especially against that team.

"We need more guys at the beginning of games to find a way to get engaged, whether it's a hit or a pass or just talking on the bench, getting a little more life. I think it'll trickle through our lineup. It's going to have to start with our leaders and go from there."

Elliott was able to make some key stops to keep the deficit from being even bigger, but he allowed the Beleskey goal that seemed to be the start of breaking the Blues' backs, and those goals have been evident from not only Elliott but Jaroslav Halak as well.

After a Blues turnover early in the second period, Elliott appeared to have Beleskey's shot from the left circle, but the puck crawled over the Blues goalie and trickled into the net for a 2-0 Anaheim advantage 2:27 into the period.

"It was a hard shot. I tried to squeeze it," Elliott said. "I thought I'd get the whistle. It's a goal you definitely want back. That's the game."

Alexander Steen's interference penalty led to Fowler's power-play goal, a slap shot from the left circle 9:13 into the second period to make it 3-0. Getzlaf earned an assist with his cross-ice pass, his 14th point in nine games.

For all intents and purposes, the game was over then.

"No life, nobody moving our feet, waiting until the third period to play hockey," Jackman said. "That's going to have to start with our big players, our leaders. You have to have something from every line contributing. Tonight throughout our lineup, we were dead in the first two periods and then finally showed some life. It's too little, too late."

The Blues made it interesting in the third period. It wasn't enough.

"The third period maybe they started to get tired from the game [Friday] traveling and we started to step on the gas, but a three-goal deficit in this league against any team is tough and against the good teams, it's a real tall order," Backes said. 

"Hopefully that third period, we can gain something out of that and say that's where we start on our first drop of the puck in Detroit on Monday."

Jackman thwarted Andersen's first career shutout bid by firing a wrister past a screened Andersen into the near side at 9:12 to make it a 3-1 game. 

Schwartz scored his 16th of the season when he banked a puck from the side of the net off Andersen on the power play with 5:29 remaining, but the Ducks were able to hold on after Andersen stopped T.J. Oshie's shot from the right circle with 2.6 seconds remaining.

They're a good team and they came at us and got up," Elliott said. "It's tough to come back. We did a good job in the third period trying to and came up short.

"We knew that if we could keep going and keep our heads about us, we could come back. They played back-to-back so you definitely want to keep chugging along. I thought we did a good job of that and came up short at the end."
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
T.J. Oshie (left) and Jaden Schwartz celebrate Schwartz's goal in the third
period against the Anaheim Ducks Saturday. The Blues lost 3-2.

The Blues are getting good, consistent play from the same people game in, game out. But there are too many right now that seem to be derailing the train and the process finds a way to go awry. The Blues couldn't even get energized by the return of Alexander Steen, who missed the past 11 games with a concussion.

"You've got to play the game on your toes," Hitchcock said. "You've got to initiate, you've got to have everybody engaged. It's hard to initiate when the puck keeps coming back at you. When you turn the puck over like we turned the puck over -- in the neutral zone -- you can't build any momentum. You're on your heels all the time. That's what we did. We turned the puck over, we got beat back into our zone because of it. It's hard to build momentum on that stuff. That's what we're doing. We're not managing the puck very well and it's allowing the other team to play on their toes. That's what's happening. We're having tentative starts because of that. When you manage the puck properly, good things happen, which is exactly what we did in the back half of the second period and in the third period. We managed the puck better, we created momentum, they were on their heels, they couldn't get out. But you can't play 30 minutes like that and dig yourself a hole. When you don't manage the puck well, especially against top teams, they burn you, and that's what's happening.

"We're a team right now that needs everybody engaged. We need four lines, six defensemen playing to their potential and both goalies playing well. We're not the kind of team that can have one or two people carry us. We need everybody engaged. Right now, we don't have everybody engaged. We've got too many cracks and holes in our game right now and maybe against a lesser opponent, we can win but not against significant opponents. That's what's happened. We don't have enough players playing well and  that's our job, to find a way to get more players playing better hockey. One of the problems we're having is we have the same players playing really well, night in, night out. We all know who they are. They're playing exceptional, but we need way more people playing that way if we're going to win hockey games."

(1-18-14) Ducks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues didn't pass their big-game test when the Los Angeles Kings were in town Thursday, dropping their California record to 1-6-0.

There's no time to rest, as the Blues will get a double dose of adversity: another big test and another California team in the Anaheim Ducks, who only boast the best record in the NHL at 36-9-5, good for 77 points.

The Ducks, coming off a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night, had won 18 of 19 games prior to Friday. They also will test the Blues much like the Kings did in a 4-1 loss.

"When you have the most points in the league, when you've won 18 out of 19 (before Friday), that's what the media talks about," said defenseman Ian Cole, who will draw back into the lineup tonight. "I always knew they were a good team, but that's what you're always hearing about. Everyone's aware of the situation. Everyone knows they went into Chicago and lost last night, a team that's fired up and that's ready to bounce back against us. 

"You have two teams that have had a lot of success this season and are definitely looking to bounce back from some games that they think they could have played a lot better in."

The Ducks were here six weeks ago and handed the Blues a 5-2 setback when Anaheim scored three goals in the game's first seven minutes. 

"I guess we're in the same boat, two teams that want to bounce back," defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "Last time they were in here, we didn't put our best foot forward for sure. We just have to be ready to go from the start. That's where we got in trouble the other night and then same as the last time they were here."

Added coach Ken Hitchcock: "These games, like the one against Los Angeles, they really give you a measuring stick of where your team game's at. All the players love playing in these type of games."

"It'll be a good challenge for where our team's at right now," right winger T.J. Oshie said. "I think tonight we;ll simplify our game and get us back to where we want to play."

- - -

With Alexander Steen returning to the lineup tonight after missing 11 games with a concussion, the Blues are rolling some different line combinations. Or at least that's what they'll start the game with, ones that were rolling during the morning skate Saturday.

Steen was back in his usual slot on the left wing with David Backes and Oshie, but Patrik Berglund was centering Jaden Schwartz (who had been playing with Backes and Oshie in Steen's absence) and Chris Stewart, Vladimir Sobotka was centering Brenden Morrow and Vladimir Tarasenko and Derek Roy was centering Magnus Paajarvi and Ryan Reaves.

"We've got what we think we'll start the game with, but then who knows," Hitchcock said. "We want to see how things look. We've got some real flexibility in some of the things we got going. We'll just see how it looks moving forward. 

"We think we've got four good lines going right now. If something it looks like it's working or not working, we're not going to wait on change. We're going to go right away with it. The combination that works; we know how good the Berglund, Sobotka, Tarasenko line is. If we get down to three lines, that's one we'll probably push forward on."

- - - 

With eight healthy defensemen going again for the Blues, it's been a revolving door for the Blues' sixth slot, and Cole and Jordan Leopold have alternated games this past week. Cole will play tonight after sitting out in favor of Leopold Thursday. Leopold will sit out tonight.

"From one to eight, we have such a strong group of d-men that any of the eight guys can play any night and can play successfully any night against any team," Cole said. "It's really nice as a team to have that situation. Obviously as a player, you want to be playing every single night and playing every single game. That want-to-play continuously for a long stretch definitely puts you on your toes every time you touch the ice." 

- - -

Count Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau among those impressed by the Blues.

"Everything's impressive," he said. "Their six 'D' are six experienced, veteran 'D.' They got four lines ... when you've got Derek Roy on your fourth line, you've got something going. There's no weakness in their team. They're big, they're physical. They do so many good things. You have to be at your absolute best, and hopefully you catch one of their goalies on a less-than-great night to beat these guys."

Boudreau, whose team played back-to-back against the Blackhawks and Blues six weeks ago, will see a team in the Blues that plays a different style than Chicago.

They're two completely different style teams," Boudreau said. "These guys are power, run right through you, go to the net kind of team. Chicago is beat you with speed, 'D' joining rushes, making it miserable for you as far as skating goes. Two great teams, but two different outlooks on how they go about it."

As has been customary throughout the season on back-to-back games, Ducks veteran Teemu Selanne will not play against the Blues tonight. He was also a healthy scratch against the Blues the last time the Ducks were in here.

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz-Vladimir Sobotka-Vladimir Tarasenko

Brenden Morrow-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Magnus Paajarvi-Derek Roy-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole-Roman Polak

Brian Elliott will start in goal. Jaroslav Halak is the backup.

Jordan Leopold, Carlo Colaiacovo and Adam Cracknell are healthy scratches. Maxim Lapierre (lower body) is on injured reserve.

- - -

The Ducks' projected lineup:

Dustin Penner-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

Matt Beleskey-Nick Bonino-Jakob Silfverberg

Kyle Palmieri-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano

Patrick Maroon-Mathieu Perreault-Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy

Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin

Mark Fistric-Bryan Allen

Frederik Andersen is expected to start in goal. Jonas Hiller is expected to be the backup.

Teemu Selanne, Daniel Winnik and Sami Vatanen are healthy scratches. Luca Sbisa (hand), Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation) and Sheldon Souray (wrist) are all on injured-reserve.