Wednesday, November 29, 2017

(11-29-17) Ducks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Big Swede is back.

Center Patrik Berglund returns to the lineup for the Blues (17-6-1) on Wednesday when they play host to the battered and bruised Anaheim Ducks (10-10-4) on Wednesday (8 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Berglund, who had a career-high 23 goals last season, returns after missing the first 24 games of the season because of a dislocated left shoulder sustained during off-season training in his native Sweden.

"I'm going to play. I'm very excited," Berglund said. "I've been feeling good for a while now. We decided that today would be the first game and I think two good practices Monday and Tuesday and here we are now. It feels as good as it can be right now.

"Yeah, a little bit (of butterflies) I'd say. It's been a long road up to this day. I'm excited to be back and I'm excited to try and help out the team as good as I can."

Berglund will return to the lineup and center the third line with Dmitrij Jaskin and Sammy Blais.

"Happy to get 'Bergy' back. It's been a long time," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "Like we said with 'Bouw,' he's not gonna step in and be on top of his game. But we're gonna do everything we can to get him there quickly.

"That third line's done a really nice job for us all year. They've checked hard, they've been responsible defensively. And I feel as of late they've been generating more offensive zone time. And more pressure. Obviously, 'Bergy' has the ability to create offense. We don't lose the checking aspect, and the identity of the line, but I think he gives us a little bit more of a threat. And so certainly secondary scoring is very important in the NHL and he provides us with that."

Both Blais and Jaskin are glad to have the 29-year-old Berglund back. It will be Blais' first opportunity to play with Berglund.

"He's a big part of this team," Blais said. "Last year, he had a very good season and I'm happy and glad that he's back. He's going to help us to win hockey games."

"It's exciting. It's been a long time for him," Jaskin said. "Obviously physicality. Some puck possession. He's good on the puck and heavy. So hopefully it'll work out.

"We just focus on our game and trying to help him out as much as we can. Obviously, he will get tired at some point tonight. It's not gonna be easy, but I'm sure his preparation has been good and it's been long, so I think he's ready. I'm just happy for him."

Berglund comes in and Oskar Sundqvist will come out of the lineup and be a healthy scratch. Also, with Berglund's return, veteran defenseman Nate Prosser was placed on waivers since the Blues were carrying 24 players and have to trim one off the roster when Berglund was activated off injured-reserve.

"It's tough for me," Yeo said. "I've been with 'Pross' since we both started in Houston (of the American Hockey League) together. So I love the kid. He's a phenomenal personality and a great player. But obviously we've got a large number of quality defensemen here and couldn't keep 'em all."

Prosser could very well be re-claimed by the Minnesota Wild, who claimed Prosser off waivers when the Blues had him for a cup of coffee in 2014. The Wild placed Kyle Quincey on waivers and are in dire need of a right-handed defenseman.

Prosser played in one game for the Blues after signing a two-year, two-way contract in August.

"He comes to the rink with a smile on his face every day regardless of his own situation," Yeo said of Prosser. "So ultimate team guy. Obviously he only played the one game for us but it was never because we didn't have confidence in him. It was just a matter of the other guys were doing such a good job."

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Former Blues left wing and recent Hall of Fame inductee Paul Kariya is in town and will drop the ceremonial first puck tonight before the game.

Kariya, who retired after his third and final season with the Blues following the 2009-10 season, played 15 seasons in the NHL, the first nine with the Ducks, has been out of hockey since his early retirement due to history with concussions.

Read more on Kariya later and what he has been up to, his desire if he'd ever return to the NHL in some form and what the past seven years of his life have entailed. 

- - -

The Blues have won four of five and 11 of the past 15; they've scored four or more goals in five of the past six games.

The line of Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko has combined for 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists) the past 10 games.

The Ducks will be without defenseman Brandon Montour, who hyper-extended his elbow Monday in a 7-3 loss to Chicago. He joins six others out due to injury.

Anaheim is playing the third of a six-game trip and is 0-3-1 the past four games. The Ducks have been outscored 17-7 during their losing streak.

So what does Ducks coach Randy Carlyle see in the Blues?

"Lots of confidence," he said. "They've got three lines that are really cooking for them. They're getting contributions from different people and they've got a big, mobile defense. They're a hard team to play against. Their tenacity is demonstrated, their eagerness on the puck, that's what I see."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Vladimir Sobotka-Paul Stastny-Alexander Steen

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin-Patrik Berglund-Sammy Blais 

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Chris Thorburn

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches include Carl Gunnarsson, Magnus Paajarvi and Oskar Sundqvist. Zach Sanford (shoulder) is out indefinitely and Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.

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The Ducks' projected lineup:

Nick Ritchie-Derek Grant-Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano-Chris Wagner-Jakob Silfverberg

Logan Shaw-Antoine Vermette-Kevin Roy 

Mike Liambas-Kalle Kossila-Dennis Rasmussen

Cam Fowler-Kevin Bieksa

Francois Beauchemin-Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson

John Gibson will start in goal; Ryan Miller will be the backup.

The healthy scratch includes Korbinian Holzer. Jared Boll (lower body), Patrick Eaves (illness), Ryan Getzlaf (face), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Ryan Kesler (hip surgery), Rickard Rakell (upper body) and Brandon Montour (elbow) make seven players out due to injury.

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