Friday, December 1, 2017

(12-1-17) Kings-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues will make some lineup tweaks and and insert two new players in when they host the Los Angeles Kings in the final of a five-game homestand.

The Blues (17-6-1) will flip Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladimir Sobotka on their forward lines and Carl Gunnarsson will replace Robert Bortuzzo on defense, Oskar Sundqvist will replace Sammy Blais, Jay Bouwmeester will move to the right side with Vince Dunn and Patrik Berglund will move to left wing with Sundqvist and Sobotka.

Gunnarsson has been a healthy scratch the past four games after having three goals and an assist and a plus-10 rating through 20 games. He came out when Bouwmeester returned from a fractured left ankle.

"It's a good feeling to walk in and see your number on the board. I'm excited for tonight.

"It's not easy (sitting out), it's not fun. It's been a while now, just been trying to grind away and prove I want to be back in the lineup and tonight's my shot. ... Just trying to stay positive and look at what I've done so far and not be too discouraged being out of the lineup. Just trying to get in here every day and do what it takes to get back."

Gunnarsson should have plenty of juice upon returning.

"It's not like I've been sitting on my ass the whole time," he joked. "It's been kind of tough in practice as you do the extra work. Just try to stay on pace."

The Blues will play 16 games in 31 days this month, and coach Mike Yeo said with the busy schedule, players need to stay fresh.

Or does it have anything to do with a lackluster 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday?

"There's a lot of guys that are going to be getting chances," Yeo said. "We've got a lot of games coming up in this next little stretch. We could win 10 games in a row and we're going to be switching players in and out. That's the way it's going to be because we have to keep everybody involved and I think that competition for our group is going to be good. 

"If you come to the rink and you just know you're going to be in the lineup the next day regardless of what you did on that particular night, that's a different mindset than you know you have to be on top of your game to know you're coming in and staying in. We've got a lot of good players that we have confidence in. If a guy comes out, it's not necessarily because of them and the job they're doing. Quite often those decisions are also on something else."

As for flipping Jaskin and Sobotka, Yeo wants to see how he fares with Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen after getting a point in three of the past four games (two goals, one assist).

"He's playing hard, he's getting to his game right now, he's finding a way to get to the offensive zone, to move his feet down low, he's playing with more pace, taking pucks to the net," Yeo said. "I think that can be good for 'Stas' and 'Steener,' a guy that can recover pucks, a guy that's a physical big body on that line and then open up more space for those guys to do their work."

Berglund will move to the wing after returning Wednesday from a dislocated left shoulder.

"I like him at center, but 'Sunny' doesn't have a lot of experience on the wing," Yeo said. "Talking with 'Bergy' and 'Sunny,' in the NHL today, there's not as much positional play, there's too many shifts where your first tracker back in the offensive zone is a winger, he's going to play center in that situation and the center is going to have to read off him and play wing. In the offensive zone, there's really just F1, F2, F3, whatever the case is. You're really starting your positions at center, after that it's a much read off each other hockey game and those guys have the ability to do that. I think you'll see tonight faceoffs on the strong side, 'Bergy' will take those, he'll play center, on the right side, we'll switch."

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With playing back-to-back games today and Saturday in Minnesota, the Blues will go with goalie Carter Hutton tonight on Hockey Fights Cancer night.

"I enjoy playing wherever," Hutton, who last played a week ago today in a 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators, said. "It's one of those things where I can't really control when I play or where I play. I just control the way I practice and the attitude I do bring when I do get to play."

Hutton will wear a special Hockey Fights Cancer-themed mask. The lavender and white colored mask is covered with names of cancer patients, many of them children, from the St. Louis area that Hutton said he will represent on Friday with the honor.

"It's for cancer night, so it's a cool honor to wear for sure," Hutton said. "It's just people from St. Louis. I'm just able to wear it. The team designed it.

"It's great to wear. It's obviously an honor. Tonight should be a special night for sure for everyone affected by cancer."

The Blues will also wear lavender-themed warmup jerseys with sparkly and glittery numbers in honor of 11-year-old Arianna Dougan, who recently passed away from neuroblastoma. Dougan's family will be honored tonight during pregame and drop the ceremonial first puck.

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Blues center Brayden Schenn was named the NHL Third Star of the Month for November on Friday afternoon.

Schenn has 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 12 games and averaged 1.58 points per game to help the Blues to a 7-5-0 month.

Among highlights in Schenn's were two four-point games, a four-assist game against Toronto on Nov. 4 and two goals and two assists on Nov. 21 against Edmonton.

Schenn is second on the Blues with 30 points and leads them with 20 assists.

"He's been great for us," Yeo said of Schenn. "He's been everything that we could have hoped for. Obviously he had a great month and it's not just the offense that he's bringing and we've been so pleased with that, but it's (also) his defensive play. You put him out there to kill penalties and he's doing a great job with that. Personality-wise, character-wise, he just fits with our group. He's a real quality person and hockey player and we're lucky to have him."

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Blues prospect Jordan Kyrou, a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, was named for the second straight month in November the Ontario Hockey League Player of the Month.

Kyrou, who is the captain for the Sarnia Sting, led all players with 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 11 games. 

He had points in 10 of 11 games, including a six-point game (two goals, four assists) on Nov. 2 against Peterborough. 

Kyrou's six points are the most by a Sting player in a single game since Charles Sarault registered six in February of 2013. 

Sarnia has jumped out to a 21-4-1-0 record.

Kyrou leads the OHL with 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) in 24 games this season. His 2.17 points-per-game and 21 power play points are also league highs. 

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Dmitrij Jaskin-Paul Stastny-Alexander Steen

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund-Oskar Sundqvist-Vladimir Sobotka

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Chris Thorburn

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Jay Bouwmeester

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

Healthy scratches include Robert Bortuzzo, Magnus Paajarvi and Sammy Blais. Zach Sanford (shoulder) is out indefinitely and Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.

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The Kings' projected lineup:  

Alex Iafallo-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson-Nick Shore-Tyler Toffoli

Marian Gaborik-Adrian Kempe-Trevor Lewis

Jussi Jokinen-Nic Dowd-Jonny Brodzinski

Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty 

Kurtis MacDermid-Alec Martinez

Derek Forbert-Christian Folin

Darcy Kuemper could start in goal; Jonathan Quick could be the backup after making 27 saves in a 5-2 win at Washington on Thursday.

Healthy scratches could be Oscar Fantenberg and Torrey Mitchell. Jeff Carter (lower body), Kyle Clifford (upper body), Andy Andreoff (upper body) are all out.

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