Tuesday, January 30, 2018

(1-30-18) Canadiens-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues felt good about their game prior to the All-Star break and want to continue in that trend when they come out of it and play the finale of a four-game homestand Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

The Blues are 4-1-0 the past five games and 7-3-1 the past 10 games and are right in the thick of the heated race in the Central Division, three points behind first-place Winnipeg and two behind second-place Nashville.

"That's important here that we have that mindset," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "I've said this a lot last year and going forward here, the goal is to make the playoffs, but the goal is to go into the playoffs feeling good about your game. The only way you do that is to make sure night after night, you come to the rink and you try and find ways to get better and you're pushing yourself and each other. 

"We've got to come here tonight, we've won four out of five heading into that All-Star break and I think it's important tonight that we assume that that momentum is just going to carry over. We have to come out here tonight and play a real strong, hard game and then obviously when you do those things, you get the results you want more often than not."

And where does Yeo think his team's game is at?

"I think we like our group and I think that for the most part, we like our game. We went through a bit of a stretch where we had a couple games where we didn't like, but for the most part, we're a team that's tough to play against and we give ourselves a chance night after night. There's some areas that we want to keep building on, but we like where we're at right now."

So do the Blues (30-18-3), but they understand there's more that needs to be done.

"The last five games with obviously the exception of the Arizona game, I think as a group, we feel like as a group, we're starting to build it back up to where we know it's capable of getting to," center Kyle Brodziak said. "There's still things we want to work on and improve every day, but I think overall, there's a good feeling that our game's starting to come back. When that's the case, we know and I think we're pretty confident here as a group that we'll get a lot of wins if that's the case."

The Blues will want to take advantage of the Canadiens (20-23-6), who have just two wins (2-3-2) the past seven games and are 10 points out of a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.

"If we continue to win and continue to play the way that we can, that'll take care of itself," defenseman Colton Parayko said.

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The Blues are 4-for-9 on the power play the past three games, scoring twice in two of those games, including two in their last game, a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

What's been the biggest difference for a group that moved up from 29th in the NHL to 25th currently?

"I think part of it is the play of 'Dunner' [Vince Dunn] back there," Yeo said. "He's taking advantage of that opportunity and then when you put 'Petro' [Alex Pietrangelo] and 'Pary' on that second unit, obviously I think that makes them more dangerous, too. 

"The puck recoveries for me has been the biggest part. They're working to get pucks back. Obviously when you have possession of the puck in the offensive zone, that's when you have your opportunities to create and that's what we've been doing the last couple games."

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After a day off Monday following All-Star weekend, Pietrangelo skated Tuesday and is ready to go for the game tonight.

Pietrangelo was the Passing Challenge winner on Saturday night and although he was part of the Central Division's losing side, 5-2 against the Pacific Division on Sunday, the Blues' captain said the weekend was awesome.

"It was great," Pietrangelo said. "A lot of guys I hadn't met but a lot of guys I knew, crossed paths, a lot of guys I played a lot of games with in different tournaments. Everybody brought their kids, nephews, nieces, families. A lot of people to hang out with, a lot of people to talk to, a lot of people that maybe you would never cross paths with when you go into a situation like that. We all had a helluva time; it was fun."

Pietrangelo said he had no clue how the passing competition was supposed to play out but did get a helping hand.

"[USA Hockey's] Hilary Knight, or one of the girls did it; she was on the bench and she was telling us and I still didn't get it," Pietrangelo said. "Thank God I didn't go first."

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Center Paul Stastny has 10 points (four goals, six assists) the past 10 games.

Right wing Alexander Steen (four goals, three assists) has seven points during a five-game point streak.

Center Brayden Schenn has scored in four straight games for the second time this season and has six points (four goals, two assists) in the streak. He scored a hat trick against the Canadiens in a 4-3 Blues victory in Montreal Dec. 5.

Goalie Carter Hutton, who will start the sixth straight game tonight, is 4-1-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average the past five games. He's 7-1-1 with a 1.81 GAA and .938 save percentage his past nine starts. It will be the 10th time in 12 games Hutton will start.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Ivan Barbashev-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Alexander Steen

Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Tage Thompson

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Dmitrij Jaskin

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, Chris Thorburn and Oskar Sundqvist. Zach Sanford (shoulder) skated Tuesday but is out. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.

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The Canadiens' projected lineup:

Max Pacioretty-Paul Byron-Charles Hudon

Alex Galchenyuk-Jonathan Drouin-Nicolas Deslauriers

Artturi Lehkonen-Tomas Plekanec-Brendan Gallagher

Jacob de la Rose-Byron Froese-Logan Shaw

Karl Alzner-Jeff Petry

Victor Mete-David Schlemko

Joe Morrow-Jakub Jerabek

Carey Price will start in goal; Antti Niemi will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Jordie Benn and Daniel Carr. Shea Weber (foot), Andrew Shaw (lower body), Phillip Danault (concussion-like symptoms) and Ales Hemsky (upper body) are out.

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