Tuesday, January 2, 2018

(1-2-18) Devils-Blues Gameday lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Carter Hutton's numbers don't lie, and so the Blues will give their backup goaltender starts in back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 24-26, 2017 when the Blues (24-15-2) host the New Jersey Devils (22-10-6) today (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

The Blues, coming off a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, will go with Hutton again after a very solid performance in snapping the Canes' four-game winning streak.

There might be some question as to whether starter Jake Allen is completely healthy after being removed from Friday's 4-2 loss at Dallas by concussion spotters. Allen missed 9 minutes 34 seconds in the third period but returned for the final 9:05. He practiced in full Monday and Tuesday morning, but coach Mike Yeo is simply rewarding Hutton for his solid play.

"'Hutts' just deserves it. It's as simple as that," Yeo said. "I thought he played a great game last game, he's been playing really well for us. Just an opportunity to give a guy who's doing a really good job a nice little opportunity to get back in the net and show what he can do."

Hutton, who has made three relief appearances, will be making his 10th start against the Devils and their backup, Keith Kinkaid.

Hutton qualifies as the NHL goals-against leader (1.68) and save percentage leader (.946).

"Mike, dating back to last year, he's always shown confidence in me," Hutton said. "I'm just playing within my role and when called upon, just try to go out there like I say all the time, just try to compete and try to help the team win."

The Blues have been blessed to have two goaltenders they can turn to at any given moment, and the tandem of Allen and Hutton is no exception.

"It doesn't matter to us," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "I didn't even realize that 'Hutts' was starting until he went on the ice. That's the type of guys we have back there. We don't really worry about it. We know they're going to play well. It's a good problem to have when you have two guys playing as well as they are."

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Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was the lone skater to not take part in the morning skate today. 

Bouwmeester has been battling an array of lower-body injuries this season but played on Saturday. He skated on Monday and Yeo said it's more maintenance than anything and will go tonight.

"We put him on yesterday," Yeo said. "'Boow' didn't have a lot of skating before jumping in last game and he looked great. He's a pro. With his experience, I don't think he needs a lot of skates in between games to make sure he's prepared to play. For us, it's just management to make sure he's rested and feeling good and 100 percent for the games."

With the Blues going back to 12 forwards and six defensemen tonight, rookie Vince Dunn will be a healthy scratch for just the third time this season and first since Dec. 5. Dmitrij Jaskin, a healthy scratch Saturday, will come back in on the fourth line.

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The Blues and Devils will meet for the second and final time. The Blues won 3-1 in New Jersey on Nov. 7, one of their more complete games of the season in which they got better and better as the game progressed after a slow start and a 1-0 deficit.

"We played well, but they played us real well," Pietrangelo said. "They've maintained that throughout the year at this point. We know it's a good hockey club over there. It's going to be a good test for us. It's going to be a team that plays quick, plays fast and we've got to be ready for it."

The Blues outshot the Devils 40-22 in the game, including an 18-4 third-period shots advantage and didn't put the game away until Brayden Schenn's empty-net goal.

"It was a pretty good blueprint of finding the level of the other team, I can tell you that, because I can tell you from the drop of the puck, I think that they surprised us with their speed, they were on us, they were aggressive and it took us a full period to adjust to the pace of the game," Yeo said.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Vladimir Sobotka-Paul Stastny-Tage Thompson

Scottie Upshall-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund-Kyle Brodziak-Alexander Steen

Dmitrij Jaskin-Ivan Barbashev-Magnus Paajarvi

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches include Vince Dunn, Chris Thorburn and Oskar Sundqvist. Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Sammy Blais (lower body), Zach Sanford (shoulder) and Robby Fabbri (knee) are out.

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The Devils' projected lineup:

Taylor Hall-Nico Hischier-Jesper Bratt

Marcus Johansson-Travis Zajac-Kyle Palmieri

Miles Wood-Pavel Zacha-Stefan Noesen

Blake Coleman-Brian Boyle-Brian Gibbons

Andy Greene-Steven Santini

John Moore-Sami Vatanen

Will Butcher-Ben Lovejoy

Keith Kinkaid will start in goal; Cory Schneider will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Damon Severson, Jimmy Hayes and Drew Stafford. Mirco Mueller (clavicle) is out.

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