Saturday, January 20, 2018

(1-20-18) Coyotes-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues are sticking with the hot hand, and whether Carter Hutton likes to hear it or not, he will stay in goal to open a four-game homestand against the Arizona Coyotes tonight.

The Blues (28-17-3), winners of two in a row, welcome the Coyotes (10-29-8), who have dropped five straight but are 0-1-4 in those games earning points in four of them. Puck drop is 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Hutton is 5-0-1 his past six starts with a 1.78 goals-against average and .935 save percentage and will start for the seventh time in nine games.

But don't call him the hot hand.

"I do (get tired of hearing it). I said that to my wife the other day, I try, I'm not being modest, I think I'm a really good goalie, I think this league is full of really good goalies," Hutton said. "It's just opportunities and playing well. It hasn't been like a little, small sample size. I think I've been good for a few years in this league. I just try to chip away at it. I continually beat a dead horse. You need two goalies to play in this league. It's an 82-game season. You need Jake [Allen] and I and Jake's played great. He got us in the playoffs, you look at last year, the start of this year, and now I'm getting a chance to play, last year there was a little stretch where I got to play. It's one of those those things, you need both of us, and we're going to continue to work hard and whoever's in net we're going to try to give our team a chance to win."

Allen on the flip side is 1-8-0 his past nine starts and continues to work in practice to get his game geared up, but Blues coach Mike Yeo is sticking with what's working right now, and that is Hutton.

Allen last started Jan. 9 against Florida but was pulled after allowing five goals on 23 shots, the second straight game he allowed five goals.

"We're gonna get Jake in at some point for sure," Yeo said. "Jake knows that, and obviously that's an important thing for us. We've gotta make sure that we give him the right opportunity to get in. But I think that again, 'Hutts' just deserves this game and I don't want to rush Jake back in. He's getting some good quality work in practice and so our mindset is not that we're not trying to get Jake in. Our mindset is we're gonna wait for the right opportunity and when he does get in there I'm confident that he'll be ready.

"I think [Allen's] had real good practices. For me, one thing that I really like is that I think in talking to Jake coming out of the bye week, I feel that he's put a lot of this on himself. And not that he didn't before. But in a good way, in a positive way. Knowing that he's not at the level he can play at. He didn't lose those games for us. There was a lot of games in there where we just weren't good enough and we could've given him a lot more help. But that said, obviously we have high expectations for Jake and he has high expectations for himself. He wasn't meeting those, so I think that that ownership on his part is allowing him to get to work right now in practice. And again, I think that's gonna help him a lot going forward."

But Hutton, who has allowed more than two goals only once in his past eight starts, is giving the Blues the best chance to win these days.

"It's a ton of games, (and) right now, Mike is making the decision to go with me, but no matter who goes over the boards, Jake's ready to go, I'm ready to go, we're professionals, and I think we show that every day," Hutton said. "You guys come to practice and see the way we take care of business and prepare and work hard. We're two pros, that's all that matters."

And when the Blues get good goaltending, the strong team game seems to go hand-in-hand with it.

"He's given us a chance to win every night obviously," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said of Hutton. "He's making big saves when he needs to, keeping us in every game. He's been great and we're trying to do what we can in front of him but when we kind of break down, he's there and he's keeping us in it."

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The Blues want to build off two strong road games coming out of the bye week, a 2-1 overtime win over Toronto last Tuesday and a 4-1 win at Ottawa this past Thursday.

Prior to the Blues' two wins, they went 0-2-1 and allowed 17 goals and for a team that prides itself on defensive structure searching for offense, it wasn't a recipe for success.

"The way that we're playing is tighter and we're working more as a group," Parayko said. "That just generally will naturally create more defense and create a harder atmosphere for teams to get into our zone. Just little things like hard back pressure and tight gaps have made it tough for teams to get into our zone essentially and we've locked down our d-zone pretty good."

What the Blues want now is to get back to being a solid home team. After winning their first five at Scottrade Center and seven of eight, the Blues have gone just 7-7-0 here the past 14.

"It's two games. And they were two good games," Yeo said. "Real happy with the effort that we got, the focus that was there. Getting into this time of year it's hard to win games without everybody contributing and everybody being on the same page. We've had that. That said. Now we gotta keep it going.

"The biggest thing for me is we gotta get back to being a real tough team to play against at home."

And how do the Blues do that?

"You can't treat it differently," Yeo said. "Teams come in here, maybe at the start of the year there's a little more respect. There's a little bit more hesitation. Whatever the case is. This time of year, I hate to say it, but home ice doesn't mean as much. Teams, they come in here, and they're a little bit more seasoned as far as being used to the crowd noise. Being used to the momentum swings, whatever the case is. I think we just proved it in those two games we just had on the road.

"You have to go out and you have to continue to play the same way and we have to make sure we have that mindset. We can't come home and try to be cute now. That's not who we are. That's not our game. We're effective when we're a hard-driving north team, and physical, and tighten our structure."

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Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz was a participant for the morning skate for the first time since he injured his right ankle Dec. 9.

Schwartz began skating last Monday and continues to gear himself up for a return to the lineup, something Yeo didn't rule out could happen prior to the All-Star break next week.

The Blues have two games coming up on Tuesday against Ottawa and Thursday against Colorado before taking a four-day hiatus.

"Both him and [Zach] Sanford, nice to have them both out there," Yeo said. "Talking with 'Schwartzy,' he's getting close. He's looking good. Obviously, 'Sanny's a little bit further away here but obviously it's pretty exciting, the idea that both these guys could be back in our lineup at some point here.

"If [Schwartz] is ready, he's ready. Obviously, you don't put a guy in a bad position. You don't put a guy with a risk out there of getting hurt. There's always a risk. But obviously, we're not gonna be foolish about that. But I think that we've already gotten to the point where we've been pretty careful about things. And now, when he's ready, he's ready.

The Blues are expected to practice on Sunday and the telltale sign will be if Schwartz is a full participant, which would include contact drills.

"Yeah. I'm not sure exactly what the plan is tomorrow, but obviously we got a couple good days here where we can get him integrated a little bit more with the group and get him involved," Yeo said. "The morning skate obviously wasn't real intense but he can be out there with our group. And now the next step will be getting a little bit more involved in some of the contact stuff."

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Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester did not participate in the morning skate but Yeo said he would play, which would put Carl Gunnarsson on the sideline for a second straight game.

Veteran left wing Scottie Upshall will be a healthy scratch for a third straight game.

Blues center Paul Stastny has a three-game point streak (one goal, four assists) and has at least a point in six of the past seven games (three goals, six assists).

Blues forward Alexander Steen has four goals the past six games after scoring four his first 36 games. Steen has four goals, two assists the past six games.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Ivan Barbashev-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin-Brayden Schenn-Alexander Steen

Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Tage Thompson

Magnus Paajarvi-Kyle Brodziak-Chris Thorburn

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches include Carl Gunnarsson, Scottie Upshall and Oskar Sundqvist. Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Zach Sanford (shoulder) and Robby Fabbri (knee) are out.

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The Coyotes' projected lineup:

Brendan Perlini-Derek Stepan-Richard Panik

Tobias Rieder-Max Domi-Christian Fischer

Clayton Keller-Christian Dvorak-Nick Cousins

Zac Rinaldo-Brad Richardson-Jordan Martinook

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Jason Demers

Jakob Chychrun-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Alex Goligoski-Luke Schenn

Antti Raanta will start in goal; Scott Wedgewood will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Freddie Hamilton, Josh Archibald and Kevin Connauton. The Coyotes report no injuries.

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