Saturday, March 11, 2017

(3-11-17) Islanders-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- So, what do the Blues do for an encore after a dramatic victory Friday night?

Simple: turn the page.

There's nothing left to do for the Blues (34-27-5), who defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a Joel Edmundson goal with 19.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

With the win, the Blues moved three points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card in the Western Conference and pulled within two points of the Nashville Predators for third place in the Central Division.

"With where we're at and with how important these games are, you can learn from last game and maybe make a couple adjustments depending on who you're playing against," said left wing Jaden Schwartz, who had two assists Friday and was a plus-4. "It's easy to get ready for these games right now. They're all big and we all know that."

So the Blues -- who only skated Friday's healthy scratches (Ivan Barbashev, Nail Yakupov, Zach Sanford and Jordan Schmaltz) and goalie Carter Hutton, who will start today against the New York Islanders (32-23-11) playing the final game of a franchise-long nine-game road trip -- came in for a team meeting today and watched video before going to rest up for another tough battle.

"I don't want us getting caught up in (the standings)," coach Mike Yeo said. "Let's use it as motivation and lets concentrate on the things that we need to do to play our best game against a team that's been real hot. 

"We're at the point in the season where that (dramatic win Friday) shouldn't be an excuse. We come in this morning, we look at a little video, some things that we did well, some things that we need to do better and then we concentrate on the Islanders and figure out what the best game plan is and make sure that we're getting prepared to go out and execute that. This is a team ... they've been playing very well since the coaching change. They're playing with an awful lot of confidence right now, they're as hot as anybody and we're going to have to be at our best."

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Hutton has only started three of the past 14 games, but in four of his past five starts, he's allowed only one goal with three shutouts.

"I just keep doing my thing like I have all year," Hutton said. "Whether it's back-to-back games or two weeks' rest or whatever it is, I just continually try to compete in practice hard and be ready to play and give us a chance to win every night.

"... They're a good hockey team. Just every night in this league, everyone's so good. Especially this time of year, every game is so big. A lot of pressure on every game."

The fact that Yeo has two viable options in goal makes it a bit of an easy decision for a coach as to who to start and who to rest.

"He's a gamer, he's a competitor," Yeo said of Hutton. "That's showed up in his play. He competes on loose pucks, he competes on secondary opportunities. You can tell he's engaged, he's prepared every time he gets in the net. It's not an easy job to kind of sit around and wait for opportunity, but he utilizes his time in practice and he's always engaged in the game just in case he has to come in but certainly very prepared for when he gets his opportunity."

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The Blues will make at least one lineup change tonight with Barbashev replacing Jori Lehtera in the lineup.

Lehtera was hit in the face with a clearing attempt by Edmundson but did come to the bench for the end of the game. It's not known whether Lehtera's injury got worse this morning or if it's simply to get Barbashev in and make Lehtera a healthy scratch.

Also, Colton Parayko is questionable tonight after the defenseman missed the third period Friday.

"We'll see," Yeo said Saturday morning. "He's still questionable."

If Parayko can't go, Schmaltz would be inserted into the lineup.

* Late updates -- Parayko will not play tonight. Schmaltz will play in his second NHL game.

Also, Nail Yakupov is in for Paul Stastny, who was a late scratch.

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The Blues' top line of Schwartz, Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko combined for six points (two goals, four assists) and a plus-minus rating of plus-11 in the win against Anaheim on Friday.

It's the kind of dominance the Blues need from a top line.

"Every night we need something different, we need everybody ready to go," Yeo said. "Everybody competing. We were close to that (Friday), there were some guys that weren't quite on top and it that led to some tense moments in the game and allowed them to come around and get back in the game and even grab the lead for a while. 

"We've got to be better there. If we have everybody, then some nights the puck is going to bounce a little bit better offensively and some nights it's not going to bounce better for you. But if we have everybody, we'll have the right result at the end of the night."

But on this night, the Blues' best players were their best players.

"I think there's other games where we might have had more chances," Schwartz said, "but they were going in yesterday a little bit more. I didn't watch the game tape or anything, but I feel like we had the puck quite a bit and were supporting each other in the neutral zone and on the forecheck. They were going in a little more than on other nights, but I think even games before, we probably had just as many chances."

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A familiar face is guiding the Islanders these days, and another St. Louis native will face his childhood team for the first time in St. Louis tonight.

Islanders coach Doug Weight has led the Islanders' resurgence to be in playoff contention after playing for the Blues from 2001-08. 

And former Webster Groves High's Scott Mayfield will come into the lineup for the Islanders tonight.

Mayfield has been a healthy scratch for three of the past four games but when it dawned on Weight that he was from here, the defenseman got word 10 minutes before he departed the ice that he would be in.

"The last six weeks has been a whirlwind for me," Weight said. "I was talking to Darren Pang and Kelly Chase about if the St. Louis kid was playing, and I was like, 'What are you talking about, St. Louis kid? Oh my gosh!' So I told him 10 minutes ago, so he was really excited. 

"Right thing to do; he's been playing great. It's not a choice of the heart. You want to make those at times and support your team but total trust in Scotty. He's played really well, he's taken a step this year as a pro."

When Mayfield got the word, he sent his parents (Andy and Jane) a second text message saying he was playing after the initial one letting them know he was out.

"It's pretty special. It's cool," said Mayfield, who played one year for the AAA Blues and is expecting 25-30 family members and friends in attendance. "To get out there and just look around. I've been to plenty of games here, so now that I'm playing, it's pretty nice. I think they got a suite, so it'll be pretty nice.

"We've had two really strong games, so maybe they were going to keep the same lineup. He let me know on the ice I was in, so that was pretty special. ... You always have this one marked down. I'm pretty excited."

Weight, who spent two stints with the Blues after initially getting traded to Carolina in 2006 and helped guide the Hurricanes to the franchise's only Stanley Cup, and again to Anaheim in 2008, had 75 of his 278 career goals and 220 of his 775 career assists with St. Louis.

"Being through here, I think I learned a lot in this part of my career being 29-, 30-years-old," Weight said. "I was here for five or six years, played with a lot of great players and really had a good team and just couldn't get over the hump. 

"Great organization, wonderful city, really good fans. I met a lot of great people here. Big piece of my career. I love coming back." 

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Alexander Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Dmitrij Jaskin-Ivan Barbashev-Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Robert Bortuzzo

Joel Edmundson-Jordan Schmaltz

Carter Hutton will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup

Scratches include Jori Lehtera, Paul Stastny and Zach SanfordRobby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season and Colton Parayko (undisclosed) will miss his first game this season. 

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The Islanders' projected lineup:

Anders Lee-John Tavares-Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd-Ryan Strome-Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin-Brock Nelson-Joshua Ho-Sang

Stephen Gionta-Anthony Beauvillier-Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy-Scott Mayfield

Calvin de Haan-Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey-Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss will start in goal; Jean-Francois Berube will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch will be Adam Pelech. Casey Cizikas (hand), Johnny Boychuk (foot), Shane Prince (ankle) and Alan Quine (upper body) are out with injuries.

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