Saturday, October 31, 2015

(10-31-15) Wild-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Add Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko to the team's laundry list of injuries.

Tarasenko will not play when the Blues (7-2-1) oppose the Central Division rival Minnesota Wild (7-2-1) on Saturday (7 p.m. on FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Tarasenko sustained a left leg injury in a 2-1 victory Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks with four minutes remaining following a check by the Ducks' Shawn Horcoff. Tarasenko missed the remainder of the period but returned in the third.

Tarasenko, who leads the Blues in goals (six) and points (10) was in street cloths during the morning skate Saturday. He indicated that he was fine after the game Thursday but missed an optional skate on Friday.

"No, he's not going to play tonight," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "... We weren't sure later in the day yesterday on Vladi, but we still held out hope that he was going to play."

Hitchcock didn't seem concerned that Tarasenko, who had a knee-to-knee collision with Horcoff after the Ducks center tried to check him, would be out for a prolonged period of time.

"He's out for the month of October," Hitchcock playfully said. "... When November turns, we'll let you know on that one."

Troy Brouwer, who was acquired in the off-season from the Washington Capitals, skated on the Blues' top line Saturday morning with Alexander Steen and Jori Lehtera. But Hitchcock cautioned, "Don't go on what you saw today because it's going to move around. The whole right side's going to move around the whole game. Brouwer is going to come out with (David) Backes sometimes, he's going to come out with Lehtera sometimes. We're going to punch (Ty) Rattie up there sometimes. 

"I would say the only thing that would be consistent, we'll start the game with (Dmitrij) Jaskin on the right side with (Scott) Gomez. That's the only constant on that right side right now."

Brouwer, who's played on lines in the past with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in Washington and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in Chicago before that, joked that he won't turn Steen and Lehtera in to something they're not.

"I've obviously got to make sure that they're not trying to play a grinder game like me," Brouwer said, "which means they need the puck. That means I've got to work just as hard, if not harder, to try and make sure they're getting the puck. When it's me and 'DB,' we're similar players who want to do similar things. I've got to definitely be aware of what makes them successful and continue to do that.

"... All throughout the entire season, I've worked my way up and down the lineup. Vladi's the only I actually haven't played with so far. It's just another game for me. I know how those guys play, I know how they want to play. I feel like I'm a very good complementing player regardless of who I'm playing with. Every team that I've played on, I've had the opportunity to play with the top players."

Steve Ott got active after Tarasenko was injured and even fought the Ducks' Corey Perry. Hitchcock was asked what kind of response is needed after your star player gets impacted in that manner.

"I think you've got to be careful there," Hitchcock said. "Good players are going to get played hard. First of all, it's their job to protect themselves. Secondly, that stuff happens during the game. You leave it in the veterans' and the leaders' hands and the players' hands to respond. You trust that they can do it and they look at what's going on on the ice. They know what's going on. The rest, you play through. There are things you quite frankly have to play through. Good players are going to get identified on the ice. They circle names, we circle names. That's just the way it is in the National Hockey League and any team sport. You want to make sure you impact the other team's best player so that they don't have a positive impact on the game." 

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Defenseman Colton Parayko, who left the game Thursday with approximately 6:30 remaining in the third period with a lower-body injury, skated Saturday and will be in the lineup against the Wild.

Parayko, who is tied with Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes for most goals among NHL defensemen with four, did not practice Friday and was seen in a walking boot on his left leg.

"It was good to get out there and get my feet under me for tonight," Parayko said. "It was just a little scare. I was skating the puck out and my foot kind of got caught. ... Everything came out great, so I'm ready to go. 

"I think I might have clipped someone else's skate, just kind of jammed almost, but it was all good."

Hitchcock said the feeling was Parayko would be OK.

"The injury was really minor," he said. "We expected him to play. Parayko playing banged up or playing a little bit banged up, that's part of what it is in the National Hockey League. You have to learn to play that way. That's good that he's going to play."

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The Wild did not skate Saturday after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Friday on home ice. After Devan Dubnyk stopped 25 shots in goal Friday, he will start in back-to-back games, according to coach Mike Yeo. He will be opposed by the Blues' Jake Allen.

Minnesota did recall forward Jordan Schroeder on Saturday to fill the void left by Justin Fontaine, who departed with an injury following a knee-to-knee collision with the Blackhawks' Andrew Desjardins on Friday.

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The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Troy Brouwer

Steve Ott-David Backes-Scottie Upshall

Robby Fabbri-Scott Gomez-Dmitrij Jaskin

Ryan Reaves-Kyle Brodziak-Ty Rattie

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen will start in goal. Brian Elliott will be the backup.

Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body), Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Paul Stastny (foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder) are out with injuries. Chris Butler is the healthy scratch.

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The Wild's projected lineup:

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter

Thomas Vanek-Charlie Coyle-Jordan Schroeder

Chris Porter-Erik Haula-Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella-Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk will be in goal, Yeo confirmed at his 5 p.m. presser. Darcy Kuemper will be the backup.

Justin Fontaine (knee) and Tyler Graovac (groin) are out with injuries. Niklas Backstrom and Christian Folin will be healthy scratches.

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