By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Carl Gunnarsson is OK and expected to play, Kyle Brodziak will miss his first game of the season and Carter Hutton will start and make his first appearance since Dec. 1 when the Blues (21-10-2) play host to the Winnipeg Jets (18-9-5) in the first of a back-to-back, home-and-home set on Saturday at Scottrade Center (6 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).
The two teams will play the return matchup Sunday in Winnipeg (5 p.m. on FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).
Gunnarsson took a wrist shot off the stick from Jordan Schmaltz during a special teams drill in practice on Friday and left the ice; he skated briefly during an optional on Saturday but deemed himself fit to go.
"That happens, just took a shot off the shin and it just felt like I had to get off and check it out, but it's good," Gunnarsson said. "We've got a couple guys out right now, but I think everyone's going through that kind of thing right now."
Gunnarsson took the shot off the shin under the watchful eye of his father Bjorn, who was at practice Friday and is in town visiting his son, daughter-in-law and newborn grandchild Elise.
"I guess he had nothing better to do," Gunnarsson joked.
Brodziak, who was to play in his 800th NHL game, will have to wait at least another day or even longer.
Brodziak did not practice on Friday, took the ice momentarily on Saturday but did not stay on the ice long and was declared out. He will be replaced in the lineup by Oskar Sundqvist.
"He's a little dinged up," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of Brodziak. "That's why he didn't practice yesterday. We were hoping he'd come in and feel better today, but that wasn't the case. Hopefully, he feels better tomorrow, but I'm not too optimistic.
"'Sunny's done a good job for us. He'll be able to come in and fill that spot."
Hutton, activated off injured reserve on Friday after sustaining a foot injury during a morning skate on Dec. 7, gets the nod tonight and Jake Allen, who had started the past seven games, will start for the Blues on Sunday.
""You never want to miss time, but we're ready to go and excited to get back in there and help the team out," Hutton said. "We're excited. It's a good hockey team over there, but we're a good hockey team over here. It's going to be a fun hockey game."
The Blues will get Jets backup Steve Mason in net tonight, which means they'll likely see Connor Hellebuyck on Sunday.
Mason will make his first appearance since sustaining a concussion on Nov. 25 against the San Jose Sharks.
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Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo skated for a fourth straight day on Saturday with no limitations.
Pietrangelo, who sustained a lower-body injury Dec. 9 at Detroit, can be activated off IR on Sunday in time for the rematch with the Jets.
Yeo wouldn't commit to Pietrangelo playing but is encouraged by signs he's getting better each day.
"He's coming along," Yeo said. "He feels good. It's been a big improvement.
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Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, put on IR on Friday retroactive to Sunday, is also dealing with an undisclosed injury and it's uncertain whether he will make the upcoming four-game trip that takes the Blues to Western Canada after Winnipeg.
"That's the plan, is to bring 'Bouw' right now, but again, why don't you just ask me tonight after the game," Yeo said.
Brodziak will travel.
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It's a rarity in the sport much these days, but both the Blues and Jets seem to be fans of the home-and-home, back-to-back games.
"It's always fun, especially teams in your own division, it brings out the intensity in the competitors," Yeo said. "Obviously there's a little familiarly, within coaches there's an adjustment, I think it's fun in the sense it gives you more of that playoff feel.
"I don't think it hurts. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. We'll prepare for them and move on. ... These are big games."
"I love them," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I wish they were all like that. It's fair for travel, unless you get stuck at the airport for a few hours. I like them a lot. It's fun for the coaching part of it, too, areas you need to get better, anticipate adjustments they're going to make in the game. I'm a big fan."
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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-Oskar Sundqvist-Chris Thorburn
Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson-Robert Bortuzzo
Vince Dunn-Jordan Schmaltz
Carter Hutton will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.
The healthy scratch is expected to be Sammy Blais. Alex Pietrangelo (lower body), Jay Bouwmeester (undisclosed), Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Kyle Brodziak (undisclosed) and Zach Sanford (shoulder) are out. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.
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The Jets' projected lineup:
Kyle Connor-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp-Adam Lowry-Brandon Tanev
Mathieu Perreault-Matt Hendricks-Joel Armia
Josh Morrissey-Jacob Trouba
Dmitry Kulikov-Tyler Myers
Ben Chiarot-Tucker Poolman
Steve Mason will start in goal; Connor Hellebuyck will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Marko Dano, Shawn Matthias and Julian Melchiori. Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) and Toby Enstrom (lower body) are out.