Wednesday, October 18, 2017

(10-18-17) Blackhawks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- A much-needed addition to the Blues' lineup will grace the ice of Scottrade Center in a pivotal Central Division showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Left wing Alexander Steen returns after missing the final seven preseason games and first six games of the regular season with a broken left hand when the Blues (4-2-0) host the Blackhawks (4-1-1) at 7 p.m. (NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM).

Steen has been skating for weeks to keep up with cardio fitness but has practiced the past two days with teammates and took part in an optional morning skate on Wednesday and declared himself good to go.

"Ready to go tonight," Steen said. "(Rehab's) been fine. It's been obviously a hand so able to work, skate, keep my conditioning up, so that stuffs been good. Other than that, it's been a waiting game, which is a little frustrating."

Steen was injured on Sept. 19 against the Dallas Stars after receiving a slash to the hand by Antoine Roussel.

"I mentioned it on the bench that I thought something was wrong," Steen said. "One of those feelings you get familiar with. I knew something was wrong, didn't know how bad it was. When we found out something afterwards, I was a little frustrated, but a couple days and I got back into training and getting ready for this game today.

"... It was unfortunate. I was a little frustrated after the game, but it's part of the game, injuries. Now I'm back, so it's good.

"It's part of the game. It unfortunately caught me in a bad spot . There wasn't much we could have done. I played, I think it happened early in the third. I knew something was wrong but I didn't think it was that bad."

Steen will be inserted onto the line with Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"We've been waiting for this for a little while," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "He's done everything he could to get back as quickly as he can. Conditioning-wise, his work ethic has been outstanding. Really good leader for us and a competitor, impacts our game in a lot of different ways, obviously on the special teams, leadership will be big for us, one of our more vocal players, especially in certain situations when you need that voice and more importantly, you need someone to go out and show the way. And then obviously it gives you the opportunity to shuffle some things around."

Steen's insertion into the lineup gives some sense of stability to the top six and enables Yeo to move rookie Samuel Blais down to play with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn.

"I think so. It gives you a guy that's proven offensively through the years, when you add a piece up there, you obviously get stronger through the rest of your lineup as well," Yeo said.

Steen comes back at a time when the Blues begin a stretch of three games in four days. They'll plat at Colorado on Thursday and make their first-ever trip to Vegas to play the expansion Golden Knights.

"Guys have been playing great, our goaltending has been really goo throughout the start of the year," Steen said. "We've ha a lot of young guys who have stepped in an played well. I think Dunner's (Vince Dunn) grown a lot in the six games that he's played. We've been trying some different things, which is what happens when you get a few injuries on the team but the boys have put a lot of heart into it and battled and gotten some huge points and now I jump in to the mix and try to help them out."

The Blues activated Steen off injured-reserve and had to make a corresponding roster move and put forward Wade Megan on waivers.

The Blues are hopeful Megan, who played one game, clears and if he does, he'll either be assigned to Chicago or San Antonio of the American Hockey League.

"He did a really good job," Yeo said of Megan. "He's done a lot more for himself and this organization in gaining our confidence as a player that we know we can trust and insert in the lineup than what he did last year. He took a step last year. He took a much bigger step this year. The message to him was pretty clear to him. We're very happy with him and make sure, he's got to clear waivers, then make sure he's the best payer."

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Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo lead the Blues with eight points on the season with two goals and six assists each. Both have a point in five of six games. ... Stastny (two goals, four assists) has a point in five of six games.

Tarasenko has scored in four of St. Louis' first six games and has 12 goals in 20 games against the Blackhawks.

Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will skate in his 500th NHL game tonight.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Samuel Blais

Magnus Paajarvi-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Sobotka 

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Dmitrij Jaskin

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Heathy scratches are Chris Thorburn, Oskar Sundqvist and Nate Prosser. Jay Bouwmeester (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Zach Sanford (shoulder) and Robby Fabbri (knee) are all out with injuries.

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The Blackhawks' projected lineup:  

Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Ryan Hartman-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp-Artem Anisimov-Alex DeBrincat

Lance Bouma-Tommy Wingels-John Hayden

Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Jan Rutta

Michael Kempny-Connor Murphy

Corey Crawford will start in goal; Anton Forsberg will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Cody Franson, Jordan Oesterle and Tanner Kero. Marian Hossa (allergic skin condition) and Michal Rozsival (upper body) are both on long-term injured-reserve.

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