Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(12-16-14) Kings-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Ken Hitchcock was mum on Monday. The revelation came to light on Tuesday.

Jake Allen will get his third straight start Tuesday when the Blues (20-8-2) host the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings (15-10-6) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM). It will be Allen's first career start against L.A.

Allen, who has won two straight starts and is 10-3-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .907 save percentage, gets the nod again over the veteran 42-year-old Martin Brodeur, who last played Dec. 8 in a 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers, a game in which Brodeur stopped 32 shots and played impressively.

"Second half of the game in Colorado. I saw Jake come back into form," the Blues' coach said of his decision. "We want to continue to build on that. That's the goalie we anticipated. He had a little bit of a rough stretch, which is what happens with younger guys and he jumped back to form there the second half of the game, was great in the third period, so we want to build on that."

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UPDATE: Blues right wing T.J. Oshie will miss tonight's game against the Kings due to family reasons, the team announced.

Oshie, who has three goals and three assists the past four games after having six points in the first 19 games, has picked his offense up since being reunited with David Backes and Alexander Steen.

Oshie scored the game-winner the past two games, including an overtime goal Saturday in a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

The club announced that Oshie will accompany the team on its upcoming three-game trip to Los Angeles, San Jose and Colorado.

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The defensive carousel spun into a different form again on Tuesday, as Chris Butler will return after being a healthy scratch at Colorado on Saturday, and Ian Cole, who played the first 26 games of the season, will be a healthy scratch for the third time in five games.

Since Carl Gunnarsson (concussion) went down to injury Dec. 6 against the New York Islanders, it's been a three-man rotation between Butler, Cole and 2012 sixth round pick Petteri Lindbohm, who continues to raise eyebrows in the organization.

"Surprised and impressed," Hitchcock said of the team's defensive depth. "Obviously Lindbohm had a great training camp, almost made the team out of training camp. He hasn't missed a beat coming here. I think the guy that's been really impressive is Butler. Butler's really done a great job for us. He had a very difficult training camp. It was hard for him, and then to come and step up ... he played great in Chicago playing with the Wolves. Now he's come back and been good. We've played him in every situation and there's been games he's played in excess of 20 minutes. He to me has been the most impressive of all of them with just the way he's stepped up and started to play with his capabilities. He's shown way more composure and everything with the puck, which has really helped us."

Since being recalled, Lindbohm has played in all six games with the Blues. 

"We'll continue down that road. I think we want to play Lindbohm because him and Jax (Barret Jackman) are a good pair on the third pair and we want to keep it that way," Hitchcock said.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has also been affected by the change in defensive partners, and will play with Butler tonight.

"For the most part, the guys I have played with other than Gunnarsson this year have been pretty similar to him, I think," Shattenkirk said. "Chris Butler is someone who, in our team's mind, has been an unsung hero the last month or so. After the trade, I think people were wondering what was going to come of it. I think he's stepped right in and proven that we can rely on him. And obviously playing with Barret, who's having one of his best years. They're all guys who are solid defensively. They move the puck well, but they allow me to go and play offensively and I know that they always have it covered."

Also, Chris Porter will be in the lineup. Porter, who has been a healthy scratch the past two games, had a goal -- a game-winner -- and an assist in his last game against the Panthers.

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Gunnarsson was on the ice for the morning skate Tuesday, the first time he's been with the team. 

Gunnarsson, who will miss his fourth straight game tonight, skated on his own last Friday.

"He's cleared head-wise and now it's up to conditioning-wise," Hitchcock said. "How he conditions after today and then gets through tomorrow's practice will determine when he's ready to play. But he's cleared from a head standpoint but not cleared from a fitness standpoint. Because of the injury he had, we are not prepared to put him in full until we feel like his hip has loosened up enough where he's good to go and we don't have any repercussions there."

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The Blues will look to make it points in eight straight home games tonight. They're 6-0-1 in the past seven at Scottrade Center and 10-1-1 in the past 12.

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The Blues' projected lineup (updated through pre-game line rushes):

Alexander Steen-David Backes-Jaden Schwartz

Magnus Paajarvi-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund-Paul Stastny-Steve Ott

Chris Porter-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Chris Butler-Kevin Shattenkirk

Petteri Lindbohm-Barret Jackman

Jake Allen will be the starter tonight. Martin Brodeur will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include T.J. Oshie (family reasons), Joakim Lindstrom and Ian Cole. Brian Elliott (knee) and Carl Gunnarsson (concussion) are out.

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The Kings' projected lineup:

Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Jeff Carter

Marian Gaborik-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams

Tanner Pearson-Mike Richards-Dwight King

Kyle Clifford-Trevor Lewis-Tyler Toffoli

Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty

Robyn Regehr-Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb-Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick will get the start in goal. Martin Jones will be the backup.

Healthy scratches are Jamie McBain, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov (suspension). The Kings have no injuries to report.

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