Thursday, December 14, 2017

(12-14-17) Ducks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues will get Jay Bouwmeester back on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) after the defenseman missed one game with an undisclosed injury.

Bouwmeester, who missed 21 games to start the season with a fractured left ankle, will play alongide Robert Bortuzzo after missing a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

"I think so. As long as I don't fall out of bed or do something like that," Bouwmeester on playing. "I had something lingering, hopefully it will work.

"It's good enough to play, so you play."

With Bouwmeester's return, Jordan Schmaltz, who was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, will be a healthy scratch after playing on Tuesday.

"We felt pretty good that this would come about quickly," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of Bouwmeester's injury. "Maybe if it was the playoffs the last game he would have been in there, but getting the night off … it's good to have him back.

"... We want to make sure he doesn't hurt it any worse and it gives it a chance to heal and the second part is you want to make sure he can perform at the level he needs to. Today we're confident he can."

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Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (lower body) and goalie Carter Hutton (lower body) were both on the ice for the morning skate and appear ready to return when each are eligible to come off injured reserve.

In Hutton's case, that would be on Friday after skating for a third straight day. For Pietrangelo, who blocked a shot on Saturday's 6-1 win at Detroit, that would be Sunday. 

"Things went well," Yeo said of Pietrangelo. "He's not in tonight but a good sign that he's not too far away.

"I talked to 'Hutts' too, there's a chance we could see 'Hutts' this weekend. A good practice today, starting to feel better, another guy we'd be excited to get back."

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The Blues (21-9-2), who have the most points in the Western Conference with 44, and Ducks (13-11-7) played here on Nov. 29, a 3-2 Ducks win in which the Blues fell behind 3-0 and lost the game on special teams.

"They obviously played us hard, played us well," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "They're tight defensively, don't give you a whole lot. We're going to have to earn our chances tonight, earn our opportunities. They're a structured team, a detailed team and playing hard for one another right now, so it's going to be a good game tonight."

The Ducks scored early, then added two power-play goals playing with a lineup without many key players.

Tonight, they will be without Corey Perry (lower body) but do have Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell among others back who did not play here 16 days ago. Also, the Ducks have since added Adam Henrique from the New Jersey Devils.

"What we can take from it is what a hard game it was," Yeo said of the last meeting. "Looking at the video of them, they've got some guys coming back into the lineup now, they're still in a desperate position and that desperation is showing up in their play. The work ethic they have, the structure, the tightness of their checking game, the commitment they have to get to their game, that forecheck, that offensive zone play game, you're seeing it shift after shift so it's going to be a real hard game tonight in all areas. They're going to force you to defend in hard areas, and for you to get to your game, you have to do a lot of things well in terms of your execution and your work ethic to try to create something.

"They came out with a desperation we didn't match. I felt from the drop of the puck to the end of the day. I thought at the end of the day they deserved to win."

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The Blues tinkered with their bottom six forwards and will move Scottie Upshall up to the third line to play with Patrik Berglund and Ivan Barbashev and drop Magnus Paajarvi to the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Chris Thorburn, who returns after being a healthy scratch the past three games and five of the past six games.

"First off, when you think of 'Bergy's game, you think of him motoring around the offensive zone, moving his feet, controlling the puck, protecting the puck, and I feel that line hasn't had enough of that sustained pressure in the offensive zone," Yeo said. "Uppy's a guy with his speed and his competitiveness that should help to create some turnovers on the forecheck. This is a team that we're looking at, their D gaps and their forwards track back. There hasn't been very little room in the neutral zone. Your forecheck game is going to be important in games like that. 'Uppy' is the kind of guy that can arrive and separate guys and help a guy like 'Bergy' get to his game.

"Twelve points is pretty darn good considering we've used [Upshall] exclusively in a checking role this year. I think what's important for 'Uppy' is those 12 points have come from checking, from his work ethic, so the conversation for him is, lets not change your game. You're there to add what you bring so make sure you bring it."

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- Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko has just to goals the past 10 games despite having 82 shot attempts, or 8.2 per game. Tarasenko has an empty-net goal and overtime game winner the past 10 games. But Tarasenko does have 11 points (four goals, seven assists) the past 11 games.

- Goalie Jake Allen will start for the seventh straight game, nine of the past 10 and 14 of the past 16. Allen is 4-1-1 with 10 goals allowed the past six games with one shutout and has held opponents to two goals or fewer in past four starts.

Tonight, he will have Jordan Binnington as his backup. Binnington was recalled Thursday from Providence of the AHL.

- Schenn has six goals and seven points the past five games but had a four-game point streak end on Tuesday. He's living life now without Jaden Schwartz.

"You've got to put that behind you," Schenn said. "You can't worry about that anymore. Hopefully you get him back when he's supposed to return, but I don't try and worry about that anymore. I've got two good linemates right now with 'Jasky' [Dmitrij Jaskin] and 'Steener' [Alexander Steen] and I've got to find chemistry with those guys and be able to create with those guys. There's no sense in worrying about that anymore."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Vladimir Sobotka-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen-Brayden Schenn-Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall-Patrik Berglund-Ivan Barbashev

Magnus Paajarvi-Kyle Brodziak-Chris Thorburn

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko 

Jay Bouwmeester-Robert Bortuzzo

Carl Gunnarsson-Vince Dunn

Jake Allen will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Oskar Sundqvist and Jordan Schmaltz. Alex Pietrangelo (lower body) is day-to-day, Jaden Schwartz (ankle) is out six weeks, Carter Hutton (lower body) can come off IR Friday and Zach Sanford (shoulder) is out indefinitely. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.

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The Ducks' projected lineup:

Kevin Roy-Ryan Getzlaf-Jakob Silfverberg

Andrew Cogliano-Adam Henrique-Rickard Rakell

Joseph Blandisi-Antoine Vermette-Ondrej Kase

Chris Wagner-Derek Grant-Logan Shaw

Cam Fowler-Josh Manson

Francois Beauchemin-Brandon Montour

Andrew Welinski-Kevin Bieksa

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

Healthy scratches include Korbinian Holzer and Dennis Rasmussen. Corey Perry (lower body), Nick Ritchie (upper body), Patrick Eaves (illness), Ryan Kesler (hip surgery), Mike Liambas (undisclosed) and Hampus Lindholm (upper body) are out.

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