Saturday, September 23, 2017

(9-23-17) Stars-Blues Preseason Gameday Lineup

Ten players to dress again Saturday after playing Friday; Fabbri gets 
day off, expected to play Sunday; Thomas' turnaround; Vannelli's debut

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues will play the second of three games in three days today when they host the Dallas Stars at Scottrade Center (7 p.m. on and on HD radio on Y98 HD3).

The Blues are coming off an impressive 4-0 win at Washington on Friday using a younger than usual lineup that featured plenty of solid performances.

Among them, Ville Husso's 27-save shutout and two goals from 2017 first-round pick Robert Thomas.

Ten players who were in the lineup last night will be in the lineup tonight, including Husso, who will back up Jake Allen, and Thomas. Also, Ivan Barbashev, Beau Bennett, 2017 first-round pick Klim Kostin, Magnus Paajarvi, Oskar Sundqvist, Thomas, 2016 first-round pick Tage Thompson, Robert Bortuzzo, 2014 third-round pick Jake Walman and Husso, a 2014 fourth-round pick.

"It's just how we wanted to assemble the lines," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "We feel that we're giving everybody a real decent shot to really show us what they can do and the role that they can potentially play for us."

The Blues' lineup tonight includes:

Forwards: Ivan Barbashev, Beau Bennett, Samuel Blais, Klim Kostin, MacKenzie MacEachern, Adam Musil, Magnus Paajarvi, Vladimir Sobotka, Oskar Sundqvist, Chris Thorburn, Robert Thomas, Tage Thompson

Defense: Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Butler, Carl Gunnarsson, Colton Parayko, Thomas Vannelli, Jake Walman

Goalies: Jake Allen, Ville Husso

The Stars' lineup:

Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Brett Ritchie

Jason Dickinson-Roope Hintz-Devin Shore

Antoine Roussel-Radek Faksa-Tyler Pitlick

R.J. Umberger-Gemel Smith-Remi Elie

Marc Methot-John Klingberg

Esa Lindell-Jamie Oleksiak

Dan Hamhuis-Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal; Mike McKenna will be the backup

- - -

Robby Fabbri wasn't on the ice Saturday for either practice session, and after playing on Friday against the Capitals, Yeo said it was designed for Fabbri to have the day off.

"I'm pretty happy with his game overall for a first game back," Yeo said of Fabbri, ho played 19 minutes, 8 seconds. "I think the wing position a little it, less taxing and some defensive situations allowed him to be more offensive to his game.

"Robby, he's a competitive kid and as somebody who's dealt with that injury before, there's a mental hurdle to get over. I thought he did a real nice job with that not shying away from traffic. He was going into the hard areas, he was first on pucks, he was battling hard. If I were to say he was a good player in the game, he wasn't as good as Robby Fabbri can be and that's perfectly normal. That's what I would expect from him. For me, it was a really good first step for him. It's going to take him a little bit of time. I think you'll see each and every game, he'll find his rhythm and find his timing and his execution. It's normal when you haven't played it as long as he has. Th game happens a little bit quickly and for a player like Robby, things will slow down quickly.

"Find the timing again. Sort of get the feel for the game, Things go quickly out there and when you've been out for a long time, they happen a little bit quicker. Things will slow down for him as we move along but a good first step."

Fabbri is expected to play tomorrow when the Blues play in the Kraft Hockeyville game in Cranberry, Pa. against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. on NBCSN, KMOX 1120 AM and

- - -

Thomas will play tonight despite taking a hard hit from the Capitals' Tom Wilson in the third period at the side boards by the Blues bench.

Wilson, who was not penalized on the play, is scheduled to have a hearing today from the NHL's Department of Player Safety. 

* UPDATED -- The NHL suspended Wilson this afternoon for two preseason games: (

"It was a good wake-up call for sure," Thomas said. "It was alright. I didn't really feel anything. No pain, so it was good."

Dmitrij Jaskin took exception and challenged Wilson to a fight, only his third of his career and second in the NHL (he fought Roman Polak prior to this).

"I was still playing the puck," Jaskin said. "I knew it was my centerman. He's not really a big guy. I knew something was wrong there. Puck was coming from that direction. I caught him with my eye.  

"I pick pretty tough opponents, but didn't really have a choice yesterday. I didn't even think about that as (Wilson). I just look him in the eye and dropped it, so we dropped it."

Jaskin said the reaction was only natural.

"It was just guys doing it for me when I was younger and, I don't know, it's time to step up," he said. "I don't really like the hit from yesterday, so it just came from the moment."

Thomas was appreciative.

"I owe him one for that," Thomas said.

- - -

Speaking of Thomas, he took the time to soak in his first NHL preseason game on Tuesday against the Stars and found out that the NHL game is so much different than what he's used to playing in.

The 18-year-old, who was minus-3 at Dallas on Tuesday, was able to dissect the experience and make the necessary adjustments to have a better game on Friday.

"You get thrown into it against some of the best players in the league," Thomas said. "It was definitely a good adjustment game for me and I definitely learned a lot. I think I took a lot of those positives and brought them into this game and I thought I had a pretty good game defensively and offensively. I just thought overall, it was a great experience and I'm starting to move forward.

"I wasn't too happy with (Tuesday's game). I thought I was just OK. I made a lot of mistakes. You just sort of learn over time as you get that experience, you tend not to make (the same mistakes). It was a great learning experience and I figured I'd get another chance to show myself.

"You never forget your first (goal). It was a great pas by 'Jasky' and I was just fortunate to tap it in. Getting to those dirty areas, that's what you've got to do to be successful. That's what I tried to do tonight."

Thomas is likely destined to return to the Ontario Hockey League and the London Knights, but until told otherwise, he's intent on leaving a lasting impression with management and coaches here in St. Louis.

"It's extremely hard to make the team, especially in your first year," Thomas said. "You're just trying to make them think about it as much as possible this year. You never know what's going to happen. It's obviously really hard to make it, but I'm just trying to put my best foot forward and make it a really hard decision for them.

"I would say I always have that thought in the back of my mind. That's sort of my mentality going in, but you've got to think about it realistically. Definitely in my mind, I think I can make a good foot forward."

- - -

Defenseman Thomas Vannelli, a 2013 second-round pick, will make his preseason debut tonight.

Vannelli, who has dressed for both away games this preseason but hasn't played, has sort of been a forgotten player and injuries have played a big role in it, so getting the chance to have a healthy camp is something he's looked forward to, and to play a game is even better.

"I'm excited," Vannelli said. "Boys are obviously playing pretty well right now. I'm just going to come in and enjoy the opportunity. 

"I've played well (in camp). In practice and the intrasquad game, I played well. Traverse City was pretty good. I think you've just got to come in and soak everything up you can from these guys because they're obviously here for a reason. That's what I've been doing when I go on the road with them."

Yeo said Vannelli deserves to get a game in after overcoming some shortcomings in recent years.

"I knew him a little from Minnesota as a prospect and coming into the organization last year, seems like he started to get lost a little bit," Yeo said. "Injuries put him to the sidelines and gave some other guys a chance to sort of jump ahead of him. He's been able to have a healthy camp here, he's been able to have a good showing in Traverse City. For me what I've seen, he's a guy who can move the puck, he can think the game. I think he's earned this game and now I'm anxious to see if he can take his game to another level in this game."

And Vannelli, 22, appreciates the support.

"Mike's been good about that," he said. "He's come up to me a couple times with some constructive criticism here and there but also some positive things, too. That's kept me positive throughout this and I'm getting an opportunity, so I'm excited."

- - -

The Blues will dress a number of main players for the game against the Penguins on Sunday. Among them include Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, Joel Edmundson, Fabbri and Carter Hutton will get the game in goal.

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