Tuesday, January 9, 2018

(1-9-18) Panthers-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have been waiting for the arrival of Ivan Barbashev for most of the season.

The Blues were expecting Barbashev, who the Blues selected in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft, a pick acquired from Edmonton that sent David Perron to the Oilers, after the 22-year-old had 12 points (five goals and seven assists) in 30 games last season. There was an expected buildup there.

But when Barbashev was sent to the Chicago Wolves on Oct. 22 after playing in six of the first nine games this season, it was a disappointing few weeks. Coach Mike Yeo was hopeful that Barbashev would recapture some of the solid play that captivated the Blues and their fans at the end of last season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But after a stint in Chicago having to endure some tough love, Barbashev has seemed to be on the road to gearing his game back to that level of last season.

He has a goal and two assists the past two games after starting the season with no points in 14.

Barbashev had a goal and assist in Philadelphia before setting up Vladimir Tarasenko for a goal in Washington on Sunday.

"Yeah, I felt pretty good," Barbashev said. "I thought I played my best games out there in Philly and Washington. I've just been working hard every single shift and every single game. It just kind of helps me.

"... I knew I didn't play my best here. I knew I would probably get sent down. Once I got there, I got my game back. I got my legs going and it helped me out a lot, to be honest. I think it was a good thing for me."

Barbashev went to Chicago and produced only four goals and four assists in 18 games but felt he needed to find himself again, perhaps taking for granted that he had to continue to work to maintain a level of excellence playing in the NHL.

"I probably came here with a mindset for this season," Barbashev said. "I actually had a pretty good season here last year and had some points. When I got here, I was probably thinking too much about it. But even like right now, I'm just thinking about playing every single game hard, as hard as I can and just get better every single game.

"Every single day, every single practice, you just have to work hard. I've been working pretty hard here (lately) and have just gotten better."

That's why coaches have to at times have to be sort of parent-like with their players and give them the tough love they don't necessarily want to hear but need to.

Yeo did that.

"For me, a lot of goes back to he spent some time here but he wasn't in the lineup," Yeo said. "During that time, he was doing extra skating during that time, he was spending extra time in the gym. I think that's probably what he needed more than anything else. I said kind of earlier in the year that it looked like he lacked some pop. Now I think he's got the pop back in his game. He's playing with more pace, he's more physically stronger in his 1-on-1 battles and I think because of that, he's more engaged in all areas of the game. I think that was the important part for him. He looks like he's in a better spot now and better able to play the game that he needs to.

"No question, and I think he understands that now. I think there's no question of where he's at right now and doesn't want to lose that."

So what has Barbashev's biggest challenges been?

"Probably skating's the biggest thing," Barbashev said. "I've been skating faster and I'm just going every single shift. In the d-zone, I've just got much better. I know those little things got me going to be honest."

- - -

Jake Allen will get the start for the Blues (26-16-3), who will enter a six-day break after Tuesday's game against the 17-18-6 Florida Panthers (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Allen, 1-7-0 his past eight starts with a 3.00 goals-against average that ranks 43rd in that stretch and a .906 save percentage, will start for the second time in three games but just the second in the past six games after Carter Hutton went 4-1-1 with a 1.75 GAA and .945 save percentage.

"It was a pretty easy decision," Yeo said of starting Allen. "'Hutts' has deserved some games here. He's done a phenomenal job for us. We would expect him to continue to do that. We've been looking for an opportunity to get Jake back in the lineup too. I was disappointed with the game we played in front of Jake in Philadelphia (a 6-3 loss). That was not on him at all. I would like to see us play a real strong game here tonight. I'm confident Jake is going to have a good game tonight."

- - -

The Blues were involved in a trade.

Sort of.

Their first round pick of 2017, center Robert Thomas, was traded from the London Knights, his former Ontario Hockey League club, to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Here's the release by the Knights for complete details: http://londonknights.com/article/london-and-hamilton-complete-trade

- - -

Oskar Sundqvist will enter into the Blues lineup for the first time in seven games.

Sundqvist has been a healthy scratch the past six games and will replace Chris Thorburn in the lineup.

"Part of the thought process, obviously, No. 1, he's been out for a little bit, want to make sure everyone stays involved," Yeo said of Sundqvist. "Also, when we moved 'Barby' up with 'Stas' [Paul Stastny] and 'Vladi' [Vladimir Tarasenko], that was part of the reason why we had to break up the [Kyle] Brodziak, [Alexander] Steen and [Patrik] Berglund line, we felt we needed a centerman for that fourth line. We'll bring 'Sunny' in and that will give us a chance to reunite that line."

Sundqvist has three assists in 29 games this season.

"I think the biggest thing for me tonight is not to think too much," Sundqvist said. "When it's been a while since I played, you start to think how you're going to skate, where you need to be and things like that. I think it's more not to think too much and trust my instincts."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Ivan Barbashev-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Sobotka-Brayden Schenn-Tage Thompson

Patrik Berglund-Kyle Brodziak-Alexander Steen 

Scottie Upshall-Oskar Sundqvist-Magnus Paajarvi 

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches will be Dmitrij Jaskin, Chris Thorburn and Vince Dunn, who is still recovering from the flu. Jaden Schwartz (ankle) and Zach Sanford (shoulder) are out. 

- - -

The Panthers' projected lineup:

Jonathan Huberdeau-Aleksander Barkov-Evgenii Dadonov

Connor Brickley-Vincent Trocheck-Denis Malgin

Colton Sceviour-Jared McCann-Nick Bjugstad

Micheal Haley-Derek MacKenzie-Maxim Mamin

Keith Yandle-Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson-Mark Pysyk

Ian McCoshen-Alexander Petrovic

James Reimer is expected to start in goal; Harri Sateri will then be the backup.

Healthy scratches are expected to be Jamie McGinn and MacKenzie Weegar. Roberto Luongo (lower body) and Radim Vrbata (illness) are expected to be out.

No comments:

Post a Comment