Tuesday, September 26, 2017

(9-26-17) Blues-Blue Jackets Lineup

Megan making strong attempt to cracking Blues roster 
for opening night; lineups for Blues and Blue Jackets tonight

ST. LOUIS -- It was a perfect hockey life for Wade Megan.

The center iceman was playing collegiate for the hockey-rich Boston University program from 2009-13; he entered the program a year after the Terriers won the NCAA championship and was playing with former Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

And Megan, 27, was selected by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL Draft, so life was grand.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Center Wade Megan is making an attempt of cracking the opening night
lineup for the Blues.

But cracking an NHL lineup has been a challenge, to say the least, for the Canton, N.Y. native. 

Since 2012, Megan has toiled in the minors playing in the American Hockey League, first for the San Antonio Rampage, then the Portland Pirates and last season, Chicago Wolves. In between were two seasons of stints in the ECHL playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones. It's been five seasons of prodding and prying, searching for any opportunity to make an NHL roster.

But a call came from the Blues, and Megan, signed as a free agent on July 2, 2016, gave it a shot in the St. Louis organization, and now in his second training camp with the Blues and the Blues dealing with injuries to key forwards (Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund, Robby Fabbri and Zach Sanford), Megan has thrown his hat into the mix for a spot on the opening night roster.

"It's solid," Megan said of his camp. "I'm just trying to compete every day. Obviously with the players that are around here, it's a competitive environment, so I'm just trying to be ready and compete every day."

And with Megan, who broke out with 33 goals and 33 assists in 73 games with the Wolves last season, sticking to his instincts and continuing his determination and not giving up are what keeps him going.

It helps when the Blues finally gave Megan a chance in the NHL; he debuted on Dec. 22, 2016 when Paul Stastny could not play that night against the Tampa Bay Lightning and scored his first NHL goal.

"That's how I've tried to handle my career," Megan said. "You've just got to go every day and you just kind of reset and do the best you can every day. Whatever happens will happen.

"Obviously this is where I want to be. I'm just going to continue to work hard and try to stay here."

Blues coach Mike Yeo sees that determination, who has used Megan in three preseason games and has come away with good marks on him each time. Megan has three assists in the preseason.

"I had a nice little chat with him two days ago that basically he put himself on the map," Yeo said on Monday. "... He came up for us and gave us some nice minutes. Coming into the season for me, I was looking at him as a guy that can potentially play some games for us through the course of the year if he was doing a good job. What he's done through training camp is make me reconsider that and everybody reconsider if there's potential for more there. He's a competitive guy, he's a guy that finds a way to get involved, he's been physical, he's blocked shots, he's trying to make a difference in the defensive zone but when he's had an opportunity, he's recognized it and he's jumped on it and he's made some plays. That's a real good sign.

"It's hard for somebody to come in and play one good game, and that gets your attention, but when it starts happening over and over again ... he's had good practice after good practice which led to good game after good game. When you start seeing a pattern, then you know what you're getting."

Megan flourished under coach Craig Berube and assistants Daniel Tkaczuk and Darryl Sydor in Chicago last season, and having them here in St. Louis helps with Megan's confidence and morale boost.

"'Chief' did that down in the American League; he let me play and develop my game," Megan said of Berube. "... The coaching staff is awesome. They just gave me an opportunity, they let me play and kind of play in ways that I hadn't since last year in terms of getting some power-play time, playing a lot of minutes and just taking a lot of key draws. To some extent, that's what the American League's for, to put yourself kind of out of your comfort zone and develop your game. That's what those guys allowed me to do last year."

And to no surprise to anyone that played with him there, Megan thrived under the system.

"You can just trust him out there," said defenseman and Wolves teammate Vince Dunn. "At this level, trust is a huge thing. I think every time he goes on the ice, I think the players and the coaches trut him to make the right play, make a safe play but it's always usually a really nice play. He just does the little things so well. He wins important faceoffs, he's got a really good stick and I think that just makes him a really great player.

"He definitely leads by example. He's definitely one of the quieter guys but definitely speaks up when he needs to. I think all the guys really appreciate that. When he's on the ice, he's always a sneaky guy. His stick is just so good out there, and I think that just makes him so dangerous. He's always on the right side of the puck."

Megan will be in the lineup today when the Blues (3-2-0) play at the Columbus Blue Jackets (6 p.m.) in what is sort of a final audition for many of the fringe players looking to make the roster, including Megan.

"That's a good feeling and that's a feeling that I want to have," Megan said. "Whatever happens, happens. At the end of the day, I feel like I worked hard, I competed. I brought my best foot forward. Whatever happens is going to happen. We'll move on from there."

- - -

The Blues' lineup for tonight includes: 

Forwards: Ivan Barbashev, Sam Blais, Dmitrij Jaskin, Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou, MacKenzie MacEachern, Wade Megan, Adam Musil, Magnus Paajarvi, Oskar Sundqvist, Robert Thomas, Tage Thompson, Chris Thorburn

Defense: Robert Bortuzzo, Vince Dunn, Carl Gunnarsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Jordan Schmaltz, Thomas Vannelli, Jake Walman

Goalies: Jake Allen, Jordan Binnington

Allen will play the entire game, and Lindbohm will make his preseason debut after nursing a shoulder injury. Blais will play after leaving practice early with what Yeo called some discomfort.

- - -

The Blue Jackets' lineup:

Sonny Milano-Calvin Thurkauf-Vitaly Abramov

Pierre-Luc Dubois-Lukas Sedlak-Oliver Bjorkstrand

Matt Calvert-Justin Scott-Tyler Motte

Markus Hannikainen-John Mitchell-Nick Moutrey

Ryan Murray-David Savard

Dean Kukan-Markus Nutivaara

Scott Harrington-Gabriel Carlsson

Joonas Korpisalo will start in goal; Sergei Bobrovsky will be the backup

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