Wednesday, February 28, 2018

(2-28-18) Red Wings-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Blues coach Mike Yeo spoke of making changes to the lineup in light of the Blues matching the longest losing streak since the 2009-10 season.

The Blues (34-26-4), who host the Detroit Red Wings (26-26-10) at 7 p.m. (NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM), have lost seven in a row (0-5-2) and will look to stop a runaway train that seems to have no end and prevent their first eight-game losing streak since losing 11 in a row from (0-8-3) Nov. 25-Dec. 17, 2006. And they will make one lineup change.

Veteran Patrik Berglund will be a healthy scratch and veteran Chris Thorburn will come in against the Red Wings.

Berglund was among the players Yeo did not mention in his group of players he felt played effectively enough during an 8-3 drubbing at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

In fact, when Yeo was pressed on those players he did not name, he said, "Unhappy with them, yes."

Other candidates like Vladimir Sobotka, Carl Gunnarsson and Colton Parayko, to name a few noteworthy players, could have been candidates but the problem is the Blues only have 22 players on the roster and two defensemen (Joel Edmundson and Robert Bortuzzo) on injured reserve.

So Berglund, who signed a five-year, $19.25 million extension last July, is the first example of players that need to take notice.

Berglund has just 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 40 games and just three points (one goal, two assists) in 12 games in the month of February.

"Losing seven games in a row I'd say was part of it," Yeo said. "... I just met with 'Bergy.' Those are obviously, I don't want to say, difficult decisions. He's a guy that his teammates love and a guy I've seen play very good hockey for us. But he's not playing to the level that he can right now. I feel like he's lost right now as far as his identity, his role, and what he's doing when he's an effective player. 

"He comes out tonight. Part of it might be as a message to the team that somebody could be next. Part of it is as a message to 'Bergy.' Part of it is the reset button, too. Again, just met with him and we'll do everything we can to make sure he puts in extra work to feel confident. We'll do everything we can to look at video to remind him of the things he's doing when he's effective."

Yeo did want to clarify that there were a couple names he left out Tuesday that were part of the player group that he feels are maximizing their efforts to play the right way. They include Ivan Barbashev and newcomer Nikita Soshnikov.

"There were a couple guys I left off that list. I liked 'Barby's game. 'Sosh' was minus-3 but I thought there were some good moments from him, too," Yeo said. "But otherwise, the guys I said, I think I was pretty accurate with."

The other guys Yeo considered benching will be given another chance.

"A couple of them responded better in the third period and that gave us a chance to see what they can do to day. That was part of it."

- - -

So ... about that losing streak that has the Blues two points out of the second wildcard in the Western Conference behind the Anaheim Ducks, as doom and gloom as everything is, the Blues have to find a way to get a job done.

Winning a game is always the biggest obstacle trying to work out of one of these problems.

"What we've had the last little bit has not been good enough and obviously we're looking at it and making adjustments," Blues left wing Alexander Steen said. "We are where we are. It's not going to help us to sit and dwell. We've got to stay up and we have a chance to get back at it tonight, which is a positive for our club. The things that have been missing have to show up tonight.

"... There's a combination of things that need to come together, things that have been instilled in us, in this club for a long time that's slipped a little bit. Not impossible to get back, especially not tonight, but that's the way it is right now. This is where we are, this is the situation we've put ourselves in and to get out of it, we're going to have to earn it."

During this streak, the Blues have been outscored 29-10, and putting the clamps on the defensive side of the puck would be a good place to start. The Blues have been outscored 16-3 the past three games.

"Giving up tons of goals. That's No. 1," Yeo said. "Getting behind early in games, down 2-0 before you really have a chance to sit on the bench. That's a big part of it. Whether it's taking penalties, whether it's defending better to start a game, whether it's getting a save to start a game, all of those things, we have to be tighter there. It's tough when you go into a game and the intentions were there yesterday, I know that we came out and there was good energy on the bench, and the next thing you know, before you have a chance to get into the game, you take a penalty and the puck's in your net. And then you give up another one right away. The next thing you know, you could see certain guys brains, they all of a sudden turn off. We have to be sharper. We talk a lot about when we're on top of our game, playing as a five-man unit, we're connected, we have to get back to that. Every situation on the ice, every player knows what their job is and what they're supposed to do and what their role is. What we're finding right now is, we're doing that some shifts, but we have other shifts where, all it takes is one guy. If one guy is trying to do someone else's job, one guy is not doing his job well enough, that's when you're not connected, you're not playing as a unit of five."

Steen agreed that there were good portions of the game.

"Yeah, I honestly did, especially at the start of the game and the attitude in the room," he said. "I felt like we had gotten our mojo back. We played a good club and they took advantage of some opportunities and moving through the game, we had moments of cracking unfortunately in our structure and what we were trying to accomplish last night and they didn't and they ended up with a big win for them. It was not a great feeling after the game last night, but can't bring that into tonight. We have to find a way to move past that. There's a lot of hockey left to be played and we're still right there and right in this fight. Tonight would be a huge chance for us to turn it around and start pushing for those playoff spots."

Maybe the Blues can incorporate a little bit of former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who coined the phrase 'Just Win, Baby!'

"We just need one win," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "One win tonight, don't look past that. I think it will give us a lot of confidence in the room. Obviously we're going through a little bit of a tough stretch right now. But get one win at home here, we're still in the fight, we're only a couple points out as bad as it's been lately. We still have a chance; we just need one win to turn it around."

- - -

Carter Hutton, who relieved Jake Allen after the first period, will get the nod tonight.

Allen is 2-14-0 his past 14 starts and Yeo was asked what the Blues can do to get him fixed.

"Obviously if we had the answer to that, then I think we would've already fixed this," Yeo said. "'Hutts' will go in tonight and it starts with Jake putting in the good work ethic in practice today. Tomorrow's one of our mandatory days off, and the next day there'll be another good work day in practice.

"Going into a game and just hoping to win right now, that's not necessarily what's gonna help him out. We can play better in front of him. We can score more goals for him. But I think what ultimately, what turned it around for him last year were his habits in practice, and he was able to take those habits and that confidence into the game."

Allen was one of six skaters on the ice (Berglund, Thorburn, Oskar Sundqvist, Edmundson and Bortuzzo.

"Your habits are built through practice," Yeo said. "This is not me saying that he's not doing the right things in practice. I don't know. I don't know that because I'm not a goalie coach. I don't know the finer things. From what I hear he's got a good work ethic right now. But again, there's certain times where he looks like he's scrambling. And he looks like, whether he's over-reacting, whether it's not confident, I'm not sure what the answer is. Again, if we had the answer, then we would've fixed this already. So we'll have to figure it out."

As for Edmundson and Bortuzzo, both got in skates today. Edmundson (broken forearm) is still a few weeks away, but Yeo said Bortuzzo (left knee) will get treatment tomorrow and perhaps skate and hope to have him skate in practice Friday and possibly be made available for the game Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

"Well, he's obviously out tonight and then tomorrow like I said, it's a mandatory day off for the team," Yeo said. "So we'll see if he's gonna skate tomorrow but he'll get some treatment, then we'll have a full practice the next day so we'll see where he's at from that."

- - -

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo will play in his 600th NHL game tonight. 

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Nikita Soshnikov

Dmitrij Jaskin-Vladimir Sobotka-Tage Thompson

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Chris Thorburn

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Vince Dunn-Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson-Jordan Schmaltz

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

Healthy scratches include Patrik Berglund and Oskar Sundqvist. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season. Joel Edmundson (forearm) and Robert Bortuzzo (knee) are out.

- - -

The Red Wings' projected lineup:

Anthony Mantha-Henrik Zetterberg-Gustav Nyquist

Tyler Bertuzzi-Dylan Larkin-Andreas Athanasiou

Darren Helm-Frans Nielsen-Justin Abdelkader

Martin Frk-Luke Glendening-David Booth

Danny DeKeyser-Nick Jensen

Jonathan Ericsson-Trevor Daley

Niklas Kronwall-Xavier Ouellet

Jimmy Howard will start in goal; Jared Coreau will be the backup.

The healthy scratch will be Luke Witkowski. Mike Green (neck) is out.

Blues suffer seventh straight loss, 8-3 to Wild

Another embarrassing effort has Yeo fuming, calls players out for lacking 
necessary level of play, hints at benchings for Wednesday game against Detroit

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mike Yeo has normally been candid and reserves any strong comments while defending his players, win or lose, after games.

But the Blues' head coach had enough after another dismal and embarrassing performance Tuesday night in an 8-3 drubbing at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, the Blues' seventh straight defeat (0-6-1), which is their longest since Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton makes a strong save against Wild forward Nino
Niederreiter during Tuesday's game at Xcel Energy Center.

In his postgame press conference, it was quite evident the sweat glands in Yeo's head were at a boiling point, although he kept his words reserved but in powerful fashion.

It's the first time Yeo, in his second season with the Blues (34-26-4), specifically named players, but it was those he DIDN'T name that bears attention, and those players should be alarmed moving forward.

"The level of some players needs to come up, it's that simple," Yeo said. "Too many guys right now that aren't giving us a chance to win hockey games. As a team game, there's actually a number of guys that I really liked the effort of and what they gave us tonight. We'll make sure that those guys continue doing that and then we'll make decisions after that as far as who wants to play and who wants to be in the lineup."

The players Yeo liked were: Scottie Upshall, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, Jay Bouwmeester, Alexander Steen, Dmitrij Jaskin, Alex Pietrangelo, Kyle Brodziak, Vladimir Tarasenko and Carter Hutton. Starting goalie Jake Allen wasn't named, but he can be excused from the not-named list since Yeo said there was a lack of respect for the goalies by their teammates.

So ... the 18 skaters Yeo didn't name were: Carl Gunnarsson, Patrik Berglund, Vince Dunn, Tage Thompson, Jordan Schmaltz, Ivan Barbashev, Colton Parayko, Vladimir Sobotka and Nikita Soshnikov.

"Unhappy with them, yes," Yeo said.

The Blues, who headed home to turn around quickly to play the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, could see a vastly different lineup.

Asked if any of these players need to be made an example of and benched, Yeo didn't mince words: "Yep."

It was more blunders, more missed defensive zone coverages, more ill-timed penalties after turning pucks over.

Over and over again.

It was that bad.

"It's a matter of pride as far as I'm concerned," Yeo said. "You give up eight goals, come on! We've given up 16 in the last three games. 

"We've always been one of the top defensive teams. The turnovers that we have and the lack of respect that we have for our goaltenders and for the game of hockey, that's ridiculous. We have guys that aren't scoring and aren't contributing defensively and are not showing nearly enough as far as what they want to bring to the table in terms of playing for their teammates and defending and being hard to play against."

And the Blues players left in the locker room to speak, including Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo and Tarasenko, were left befuddled. Bouwmeester, who had a costly delay of game penalty that put the Blues down two men in the second period of a 3-2 game after having gained momentum with their second-period play to that point, looked bewildered.

"I don't know. That's a tough one," Bouwmeester said when asked how to explain that game. "The way we've been going here, you hope its kind of rock bottom. We scored some goals, I guess you can take some positives out of that, but a weird game. At times we played hard. We had some bad bounces at bad times. Yeah, it's tough. We're playing good teams. They took advantage of some opportunities. We weren't good enough again."

"... Right now, we're just so disconnected. But we've got another (game) tomorrow."

Disconnected. That's hard to fathom happening in Game No. 64 and -- believe it or not -- a playoff berth very much on the line.

"Yeah we’re completely disconnected in our game," Pietrangelo said. "It’s unacceptable. That’s the reality of it.

"... We started off well again, I thought we started off well, they got that power play goal, I thought we did some good things there and, I don’t know, just disconnected."

Tarasenko was at a loss for words.

"Not much, nothing to say," he said. "The score is on the scoreboard and there’s not much to say about that game. ... Whatever we have now is not enough. That’s it.

"Trust me, everyone is frustrated and I don’t know, we’re more than frustrated now. We can’t stop … I don’t know what to say. It’s embarrassing. Like I always said, it’s all about our goalies but we can’t put those two guys on the spot and this is just not normal." 

It was a carbon copy start for the Blues from Sunday when they fell behind 1-0 at Nashville after a penalty and ensuing Predators power-play goal.

Sobotka turns puck over in offensive zone, then holds Joel Eriksson Ek, and right off the faceoff, Jason Zucker deflects Ryan Suter's shot off Pietrangelo, who was screening Allen on the play and in at 2:57 for a 1-0 lead.

Mikael Granlund made it 2-0 after Zucker flipped a puck past Dunn, raced by him, pulled up the brakes and fed Eric Staal in the slot. Staal's shot deflected in off Granlund at 7:13 and just like that, a reeling team is chasing a game again on just their second goal on three shots.

Tarasenko, who scored twice, made it 2-1 and the Blues were right back in it at 9:59 after a great forecheck by Schenn, who checked Matt Dumba off the puck and eventually fed Tarasenko in the slot to snap the Blues' goalless drought at 150:23.

But Granlund scored 1:18 later to make it 3-1 on a shot by Nick Seeler off the back of Parayko's skate, the puck bounded into the air, Granlund chested the puck in front of him before batting it in on the Wild's seventh shot.

Allen was pulled for the third time this season after the first period in favor of Carter Hutton.

The second period saw perhaps the first glimpse in some time that the Blues may be snapping out of it, and Pietrangelo scored 15 seconds into make it 3-2 on a stretch pass by Bouwmeester to Pietrangelo, who fed Schwartz, who then fed Pietrangelo in the slot for the finish.

And the Blues were carrying the play and should have equalized on a pretty passing play that ended with Steen missing the empty side after a terrific feed from Barbashev. Steen would take a minor penalty moments later, but the momentum-zapping penalty came off the stick of Bouwmeester, who was three-quarter lengths of the ice and slapped the puck over the glass at the other end of the ice for a crushing delay of game penalty that should have been avoided with a simple dump-in down the ice.

And the Wild made the Blues pay when Staal scored by jamming a loose puck in at 8:19 to make it 4-2 and zap all that momentum after Hutton.

"I couldn't probably do that again if I tried," Bouwmeester said. "You're trying to get it down, shoot it hard and it kind of took off on me. But again, that's probably just trying to do too much or whatever. That's going through our lineup and that's not helping us. Obviously a bad play at a bad time. That's on me. I can take that."

Mikko Koivu made it 5-2 at 17:07 before Tarasenko's power-play goal with 1:28 made it a shouting distance game at 5-3.

But Jared Spurgeon's shot from the top of the right circle caromed off multiple bodies with Bouwmeester and Zucker in front of Hutton with 14.2 left in the second for a 6-3 lead.

Staal, who had five points on the night along with Zucker (Granlund had four to give that line 14 whopping points), scored twice in the third period to complete hit hat trick.

"You can't win like that," Yeo said. "'Hutts' really battled hard, that's the amazing thing. What did he give up, five? And he battled really hard and (we're) not even giving those guys a chance right now. For me, that's a complete lack of respect for your teammates. When you're not ready to block a shot, when you turn pucks over carelessly in an 8-3 game because you think it's a good idea to go score a goal with four minutes left, that's not right. We're not going to let people take away from the pride and the culture that we have here. Obviously this is a difficult stretch and I'm anxious to see who is ready to respond the right way."

Yeo felt some of his top players did put forth the effort and wanted them to know it.

"I would say that .. and I'll go through them. As far as our leaders, I thought that 'Petro' started strong, but I thought as we got down, I thought he tried to do too much and made a couple costly mistakes, but I thought there was some progress as far as his game before that but obviously as a captain, he's got to make sure that he plays it all the way through regardless of the score and he's got to lead the way there," Yeo said. "A tough play on 'Bouw,' there's no question on that, but I thought that was one of 'Bouw's better games. I liked what Schwartz, Schenn ... I liked what Steen, Tarasenko, 'Brodzy,' 'Uppy,' Jaskin, I liked what those guys brought. We had too many guys that didn't match that."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz (17) tries to block a shot off the stick of the
Wild's Joel Eriksson Ek on Tuesday in Minnesota.

The Blues had two healthy scratches (Chris Thorburn and Oskar Sundqvist) on Tuesday. It's hard to imagine them being difference-makers, but if Yeo wants to send a message to any of those players he didn't name, if putting them in the press box doesn't get their attention, then maybe it's time to send some of them packing this summer in some form or another.

"Well, we’ll start with who we've got," Yeo said. "We’ve obviously got a couple extra bodies, so it’s time that we make sure that the quality of play, caliber of play, what they can bring offensively is one thing, but it’s a matter of showing that you care."

Time is running out, and excuses are running out.

"The only way we're going to drag ourselves out of it is to, No. 1, look ourselves in the mirror and every individual, you just have to play your best hockey," Bouwmeester said. "If we do that as a team, we can win games. Just got to get connected again."

By virtue of the win from the Los Angeles Kings over Vegas on Tuesday, the Blues now sit three points outside of the playoffs in the Western Conference. As for third place in the Central Division, a spot the Blues held for months, they now trail the Wild (36-20-7) by seven points.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

(2-27-18) Blues-Wild Gameday Lineup

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Now that the dust has settled and the Blues know what group they will have for the remaining 19 games of the regular-season, they feel it's best now to put their best foot forward and try to put a halt to the longest losing streak since the end of the 2013-14 season.

The Blues (34-25-4), who have lost six in a row and lost Paul Stastny on Monday after trading the veteran center to the Winnipeg Jets for conditional picks and prospect Erik Foley, musty pick up the pieces and move forward, and that's what they'll do tonight when they play the red-hot Minnesota Wild (35-20-7), who have won four in a row and are 6-1-1 their past eight games (7 p.m.; NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM).

The Blues will try to avoid a seventh straight loss, which hasn't happened since  an 0-5-2 run from Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010.

"This is our group," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "I think that there's a lot of people around the league, whether it's in the game, out of the game, I think that a lot of people are sort of ready to determine how our story ends here, but the beauty of the game is we're the ones that get to decide that. We've got obviously a big stretch coming up here and every game is going to be a challenge, but we still believe we've go the group to do it."

There was still some sting in the locker room of losing a guy like Stastny, who Alexander Steen called a "glue guy" on Monday who was St. Louis to the roots after signing a four-year free agent contract on July 1, 2014 to play in the town he grew up in.

"You don't want to see a good friend, a veteran player, a guy who is a top player on the team leave, but it's always a tough time of the year," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "Nothing we can do now except grab this thing and opportunity for some other people guys to kind of move forward and take some more responsibility.

"... It sucks when you're one point out of a (playoff) spot and haven't won some games and you lose a guy who's a key piece. It's just an opportunity for some other guys to step up and obviously coaches and management think that these guys are capable or else they wouldn't be in these roles. Tonight is an opportunity for us to kind of grab this thing and guys to step up and show what they can do."

There has to be some relief to know that the trade deadline has come and gone but the Blues weren't able to get any help from management with the push for the rest of the season.

"I don't know if relief is the right word, but at least now we know where we are," Pietrangelo said. "We know nothing's going to happen. It's the guys in this locker room that can change this thing. That's how we're treating it today and some good responsibilities for some other guys to step up.

"... I'm not going to comment on subtracting and adding. This is the group that we have. This is the group that's going to push forward and push us into a playoff spot and we go from there."

- - -

With Stastny out of the picture, players like Tage Thompson, Ivan Barbashev and Nikita Soshnikov will get thrust into more prominent roles.

Barbashev will center a line with Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"He played center for us last year," Yeo said of Barbashev, who started at center on a top line with Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz when the playoffs began last season with Stastny injured. "He played against a really good team that we're playing here tonight and he played at the highest level in the playoffs. He was playing on our first line. His competitiveness, his defensive game was solid and good enough and when you've got a player like 'Vladi' out there who can create basically on his own, you've got to make sure he's surrounded with guys that can do the right thing defensively and work ethic-wise to help them get him the puck."

Soshnikov, who made his Blues debut in a 4-0 loss at Nashville on Sunday, moves into a top six role and will play with Brayden Schenn and Schwartz.

"Part of obviously is we've only seen the one game from 'Sosh' but I was impressed with him, his speed and his competitiveness," Yeo said. "I feel that that could add to two guys that obviously work very hard, two skilled players like 'Schwartzy' and 'Schenner' with 'Stas' departing there. We saw 'Barby' step up in that role, in that situation late in the year and into the playoffs and he did a real good job. When you lose a player like 'Stas,' there's an opportunity for somebody and 'Barby' is one of those guys."

Yeo was asked if Thompson, a natural center iceman, was considered to perhaps center that Steen and Tarasenko line.

"No, that wasn't a thought of ours," Yeo said. "Tage is doing well and he's another guy that's going to get a really good opportunity and we looked at some clips this morning. Every game, there's two or three good scoring chances, things that he's involved in, but there's parts of his game that still have to improve. I think that for him right now, he's at the right spot in terms of matchups and players that he's going to play against. It'll still give him an opportunity to show what he can do and certainly have an opportunity to grow and gain more but this is what we settled on today."

Instead, Thompson will start on right wing on a line with Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka and is looking forward to playing a more prominent role.

"It's a huge opportunity for me obviously," Thompson said. "It's sad seeing 'Stas' go. He was really great with me and helping me adjust to the pro game and feel comfortable here. It's a good opportunity and I've just got to take advantage of it."

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said he was receiving calls on the Blues' four top prospects (Thompson, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and Klim Kostin) and was unwilling to part with any of them, and Thompson is grateful.

"I didn't see that, but obviously it feels good," Thompson said. "It means they've got a lot of faith and trust and hope in us. I've just got to do my part and make sure I prove them right in making that decision."

- - -

The Blues are going back to a familiar defensive pair with Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester for the game tonight.

Bouwmeester, who didn't take part in the morning skate, has been a partner of Pietrangelo's in the past, including time for Canada at the Winter Olympics.

"Just going back to some familiarity," Yeo said. "Gotta try and shake things up a little bit back there and obviously, whether it's the focus on scoring goals that we have right now, we're just giving up too many. So we've got to tighten up."

Also, defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who's missed the past three games since sustaining a left knee injury Feb. 16 at Dallas, skated for the first time in Bouwmeester's spot but is not ready to return.

"It was his first day getting on the ice, so he's not an option for tonight," Yeo said. "... It was his first day, he was taking it pretty easy, but I thought he looked fine."

Jake Allen gets the start in goal, his third in a row, and sixth in the past eight games. He's 2-13-0 his past 15 starts but in his 13 losses, he has just 16 goals of support, or 1.23 per game

- - -

So what's the skinny on Foley, who is a junior at Providence College? Thompson said the Blues did well in acquiring him.

Thompson was a teammate of Foley's at the 2017 World Junior Championships for USA and played against him while at the University of Connecticut.

"I think we're getting a really good power forward," Thompson said of Foley. "He's a great guy, I hung out with him a lot at world juniors. He was one of my better, closer friends there, I'd say. He's really strong on the puck, he's really good below the dots in the offensive zone, good with the puck, good speed, good shot. He's a real heavy player. I think he'll be really good for us in the future.

"We got a chance to play on the same line I think for maybe a few periods there. And I know him from playing against him in college. Obviously we played against each other for a couple years there. I'm really excited to have him here in the future. He's a great guy and an even better player."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Nikita Soshnikov

Patrik Berglund-Vladimir Sobotka-Tage Thompson

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Dmitrij Jaskin

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Vince Dunn-Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson-Jordan Schmaltz

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

Healthy scratches include Chris Thorburn and Oskar Sundqvist. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season. Joel Edmundson (forearm) and Robert Bortuzzo (knee) are out.

- - -

The Wild's projected lineup:

Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter

Charlie Coyle-Joel Eriksson Ek-Tyler Ennis

Daniel Winnik-Matt Cullen-Marcus Foligno

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Nick Seeler-Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal; Alex Stalock will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch is Gustav Olofsson. The Wild report no injuries.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Blues players surprised Stastny was traded, will miss him

Center traded to Winnipeg was veteran leader, closest to Steen

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Brayden Schenn looked somewhat surprised and bewildered. Alexander Steen looked like he lost his best friend.

Well, actually, Steen did, and that's why the news of the trade of center Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets for a conditional first-round pick in 2018, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 and forward prospect Erik Foley came as a shock to Blues teammates who've played with Stastny throughout his four seasons in the town he grew up in.

Not only was Stastny the best man in Steen's wedding last summer, the two were neighbors in suburban St. Louis and grew quite the friendship together. So when news came down that Stastny would no longer be a teammate, reality set in and it wasn't taken lightly.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Paul Stastny was a locker room leader with the Blues but he was traded to the 
Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

"Yeah, it makes it very hard," Steen said, before pausing. "You know we've become really close. His family, my family -- we live across the street from each other. That's definitely the tough part of the business. The guy's my best friend, and it's tough.

"'Stas,' he's such a big part of the team both on and off the ice. I think the more you talk to the players about the presence that 'Stas' had in the room and him and his family, what they contribute _ not just on the ice but his family brings everybody together and how much they enjoy that part of the game and making sure everybody feels like they're included and together. They're a major glue family."

And many of those Blues teammates came down, one by one, to say goodbye to Stastny, who departed the Blues' team hotel Monday afternoon to see their former teammate off to north of the border to Winnipeg, where Stastny will jump right into the heated playoff mix.

Even coach Mike Yeo spent some time with his now former veteran center, who was a key contributor as a penalty killer, power-play specialist and dynamic in the faceoff dot, where Stastny is 55.2 percent on the season and is 53.4 percent for his career.

"I spent a little time with him there, just to have a chance to talk with him," Yeo said. "Obviously he knows he's going to a good situation, a good team. There's the hockey part of it that I think is exciting for him, but at the same time you can tell just how much his teammates mean to him, how much the city of St. Louis means to him. So quite often I think it sort of gets loss in all the excitement. Obviously, a lot of people like change. It's exciting and gives reason for optimism. But when you sit down and talk with somebody like Paul and see how it affects the person, then obviously it can be a bit of an emotional day."

It added some sting to a Blues team (34-25-4) that sits just one point outside of the playoff race looking in but 0-5-1 the past six games and now having no other help coming along the way to try and salvage the remainder of the season.

"Yeah, crazy," Schenn said before the trade deadline ended. "Really one or two points out and move a guy that does a lot for us, but at the end of the day, that's their decision and I guess we'll see what happens here in the next hour. I didn't expect Stastny to be moved, but I guess with his contract expiring, them getting picks to be used elsewhere or to draft, you kind of just go from there and we'll see what happens in the next hour here."

Nothing else happened, and the Blues will head into the final 19 games using the group they have, which includes giving younger guys a more prominent role.

And by not adding and subtracting instead, does that give players mixed signals?

"It's not really a mixed signal," Schenn said. "We're a point out and they move 'Stas' not to say that we can't make the playoffs. Maybe it will fire guys up, give guys more opportunity to do more and that's one way you can look at it. Teams that are one or two out are kind of loading up right now and we're one or two out and we kind of, as of right now, went the other way. Like I said, anything can change in the next hour. We don't know what they're going to do. As a team right now, we're obviously struggling, there's no doubt about that. Maybe this shakes things up and who knows? I still believe the mood in that locker room after we made that trade is still going to fight the last 18 or 19 games we have left here to make the playoffs and that's not going to change."

Even Stastny, who had to waive his no-trade clause to allow the trade to happen, wasn't surprised.

"Yeah, and no. No for me because I've been around this league, I know how it works," said Stastny, who had 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) and played all 63 games for the Blues this season. "You can't be naive to the situation I think no matter what and then I'm in the last year of my contract. Obviously it always plays a factor. Obviously you always keep all the doors open for what might happen in the summer. Having been around and talking to guys that have been around, I come to expect that anything can happen, so I wasn't really blindsided by it. It's a lot going on. It's pretty emotional for my family and I. I think missing the guys is going to be the hardest part. I'm also excited for the new challenge and I know a few guys on the team and have heard nothing but good things from guys that have played there, whether recently or in the past or knowing certain guys on that team."

Players know these can be tense times leading up to the trade deadline, and when fruition comes to light,  that emotion gets elevated, especially for a guy like Stastny.

"As you go through the years it's something that's always in the back of your mind a little bit," Steen said. "But it's always when it becomes reality a completely different story.

"Yeah, it's extremely tough to swallow. A week ago, I don't know if this will happen or not. It's that time of year when you just don't know."

According to general manager Doug Armstrong, it wouldn't have.

"Well, that was the hardest part and that's why I hoped we wouldn't get to this point," Armstrong said. "But how we're playing right now was an indicator that there was no guarantees that if we just kept the status quo that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It's one thing when you believe you're playing well and then not getting the results. There's puck-luck, there's bad luck, there's the other team is just on a roll. But we haven't been to the level of competitiveness on enough nights recently to think that we were just a slight tweak away from getting it back. So I just felt that as an organization we started down a path two years ago of trying to regain assets and rebuild for the future. We sort of dodged a bullet last year at the end, going down that path and bringing in a first for 'Shatty' [Kevin Shattenkirk] and [Zach] Sanford. We had a lot of excitement we thought with what we did last year, the experience that we gained. We looked at our roster, our roster had a Robby Fabbri on it, our roster had a Sanford on it coming out of the gate, and we thought that we were going to be able to expedite it. Then all of a sudden we lose players in training camp and that's part of the game. We get off to the great start and then things have slowly digressed since then."

Now Yeo has to try and patch together a lineup that's been lacking with any punch up front and doing so by giving the likes of Tage Thompson, one of the players teams called Armstrong about Monday, more ice time.

"Obviously, I have thought about and started drawing up some combinations, but we'll wait on tomorrow to reveal the line combinations that we're gonna go into the game," Yeo said before the Blues play the red-hot Minnesota Wild. "That said, obviously that's a big void. It's a penalty killer. It's a power play guy. It's a key faceoff. Offensively, defensively against top lines. And what I can tell is is that not one player is just gonna step up and fill in his role and do what he does. We're gonna need a real group committee effort but certainly we still believe that we're capable of that.

"... I don't know if you call it pleasant for anybody. Obviously, we've known that this is looming. I can tell you that I'm happy and I think that the players are happy that it's over. Obviously, it's a difficult day losing a friend and a teammate like 'Stas.' But I can tell you, and no excuses on our part, but this has been weighing on a lot of people for a period of time here. And now we can say this is our group, this is our team, now let's get after it."

So Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis after his Hockey Hall of Fame father Peter Stastny finished his NHL career with the Blues, heads north after nearly four seasons in St. Louis with one biggest regret: not winning it all here.

"Absolutely," Stastny said. "I think being a fan and growing up and seeing how close St. Louis teams always are and just how hard it is to do it, sometimes there's teams you dominate and you don't play them and you do to the finals and there's teams that you don't match up well with and you lose to them. I think that's the hardest part is everyone knows how passionate St. Louis fans are. I was one of those guys growing up and I still am. I think everyone wants to do everything they can to build a winner with the St. Louis Blues and with the Cardinals having done it for so many years. It's only a matter of time. For the city I grew up in and I was raised in, family lives, I always want to see the best for it.

"... It's crazy how fast that four years has gone by. It's one of those things that in 10, 15 years, you don't want to have any regrets. That's part of the business and I'm just going to go in there (to Winnipeg) and enjoy it."

Stastny wouldn't close the door on possibly returning to the Blues, perhaps when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, in all likelihood, he probably knows he will have a new address, or the same new one, if he chooses to resign in Winnipeg.

"I don't think it was that. I think we all knew, you kind of see where the team's going and I think all those guys in my position in the last year of their contracts, they just worry about playing now," Stastny said. "Whatever happens in the summer, then you worry about stuff like that, but that's outside of your control for now. You play the game and the little things that you can't control, you try not to worry about because it's added stress and you already have enough in your life."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Paul Stastny (26) makes a play with the puck earlier this season against the
Carolina Hurricanes at Scottrade Center.

Steen said he'll miss his best bud but happy Stastny is going to a team with a legitimate shot at winning.

"He's going to a new situation and like you do with the people that you care about, you want him to succeed and do well," Steen said. "And that won't change from me to him. I want nothing but the best for him and his family. He's going to a good setup. Obviously with my connection to Winnipeg, it's a lot of people there that care about him already before he's even shown up that are gonna help him get situated and get settled, and most importantly for Haley and the kids to get into Winnipeg and feel like home right away. So he's going to a good situation and I'm happy for him in that aspect.

"'Stas' and I as close as we are, we constantly talk about how we can make our group better. And what we're missing. Or what we're doing well. What we want to keep pushing on. To lose that communication between the two of us is difficult."

Blues trade Stastny to Jets for prospect, conditional picks

Blues receive forward Erik Foley, 2018 conditional 
first-round pick, conditional 2020 fourth-round pick

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Blues jumped into the deadline trade foray by trading center Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in 2018, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 and forward Erik Foley from the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blues (34-25-4), who are in a tailspin losing six straight games but are still one point out of the wildcard in the Western Conference; they will retain 50 percent of Stastny's remaining salary, which amounts to roughly $800,000 according to
Paul Stastny

The conditions of the trade for the Blues is as follows: the Blues get the fourth-round pick only if Foley, who is playing at Providence College, doesn't sign a contract with the Blues by Aug. 16, 2019. There is lottery protection on the first-round pick in the event Winnipeg misses the playoffs, which will not happen. If the Jets draft in the top three, the Blues will instead receive Winnipeg's 2019 first-round pick.

So Stastny goes from a team in a dogfight to not just try and make the playoffs but right its season to one that's in a great position to play for a championship.

"It's tough. It's been emotional," Stastny said at the team hotel before saying goodbyes to Blues players and departing for Winnipeg. "A lot going on in my head for the last, I don't know, 20 hours or whatever. Lots of pros and cons when I think about all that. I think it's tough leaving these guys, some of the closest guys I've ever been wit, but I'm excited to go somewhere, when I look on paper and when I play against them how quality of a team they have. I think I can help them get even better and maybe be that piece for a long, extended run. To play more hockey for me is a big factor and it's maybe a decision made a little easier."

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong approached Stastny last week about the possibility of waiving his no-trade clause in wake that the team's struggles would continue, and the last straw has been the past two games, back-to-back 4-0 shutout losses to ironically Winnipeg and on Sunday at Nashville.

Stastny, 32, has played in all 63 games for the Blues this season and had 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists), but he was in the final year of a four-year, $28 million contract signed on July 1, 2014. He had a no-move clause and reportedly waived it in order to allow the trade to happen.

"Two or three weeks ago I didn't envision this being an option today," Armstrong said. "We were, I don't want to say comfortably in (the playoffs), but we were in the top portion of our conference and our division, and the last couple of weeks we haven't played to a level that kept us there. I started to look at what was best for us moving forward. I talked to Paul on Thursday and said, 'I hope that we play well on Friday and Sunday and this isn't an issue, but if we don't turn it around, I have to do my job also,' and he was a pro about it and he understood. We didn't have the results we needed on Friday and Sunday, so an opportunity came to gain two valuable assets in a first-round pick and a young prospect and we decided to go that direction."

Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis while his father Peter Stastny finished his NHL career with the Blues with 175 points (56 goals, 119 assists); he has 633 points (216 goals, 417 assists) in 12 seasons with the Blues and Colorado Avalanche.

Despite the no-trade clause in his contract, the situation that is currently present of the longest losing streak since the end of the 2013-14 season made Stastny aware that anything was possible.

"I wasn't surprised," Stastny said. "I think I've always been brought up not to expect anything, so whether you have one of those or whether they tell you you're an untouchable, I think you never know what might happen this late in the season. In the back of your mind when you start losing, it might become a possibility. Sometimes you've got to do what's best for you and the family and they have to do what's best for them. I think when we're losing a little bit, then the possibility came up. I think with the situation we're in, there's maybe only a few teams I would have really taken serious consideration. I had no idea one of those teams would be seriously interested."

Now, Blues coach Mike Yeo somehow has to mold the group as is together and make some sort of push, because the Blues are still in the mix.

"It happens with injury. It happens with trades," Yeo said. "You know what, I've got a job to do. The players have a job to do. We're professionals and so I think you can deal with it a bunch of different ways. For me, the best way to deal with it is to say this is a great challenge, a great opportunity. Similar position that I feel we were in last year after trading 'Shatty' [Kevin Shattenkirk], I don't feel that people necessarily gave us a lot of chance, a lot of hope last year (finished 15-4-2). But our group found a way and it's our job to find a way again."

Foley, 20, was drafted 78th overall (third round) by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft. He's listed at 6-foot-0, 185 pounds and has played in 32 games with Providence this season and has 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists); he has 87 points (37 goals, 50 assists) in 104 games at Providence in three seasons.

Foley was a teammate of Tage Thompson in winning a gold medal with USA at the 2017 World Junior Championships and played two seasons with defensive prospect Jake Walman with Providence in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

"Foley is a player, he's a very good skating player, he played for the U.S. National team at the World Junior," Armstrong said. "He's a point-a-game player the last two years at Providence. Someone that again, as the game progresses where skating is imperative, he's a good skater. Brings another element to our group like that. We're excited to add not only a first-round pick, but someone that is much closer to turning pro than this first-round pick that we acquired will be."

The Blues have a top-10 protected first round pick this year but will lose it to Philadelphia as part of the trade last summer at the NHL Draft to acquire Brayden Schenn, and Armstrong was asked if it was important to recoup that pick.

"No. Going into the season it wasn't imperative to get that pick back ... It wasn't a huge thing, but when you're acquiring things for the future obviously you start with first-round picks and we were able to grab one in this deal," he said.

In that regard, the Blues were willing to part with the pick in a package to make the team better for an impact player before today's deadline expired, a top six forward to be exact. The name that has been out there for weeks is Ottawa forward Mike Hoffman, and it's believed the Senators were insistent on Tage Thompson, who the Blues were unwilling to part with.

Thompson was the Blues' first-round pick in 2016.

"Well, going into the process of trying to improve our team, there was no shortage of phone calls on four particular players -- [Klim] Kostin, [Jordan] Kyrou, Thompson and [Robert] Thomas," Armstrong said. "We weren't going to move one of those players for something that was a 12-18 month stop-gap situation, and so that took us out of the market on a lot of the players that moved today. What we did today when we got that first-round pick, we included that into the equation of players with more term to see if there was a way that we could find someone a little more advanced than an 18-year-old or a first-round pick is today. We had some dialogue with some teams, we just couldn't find the sweet spot. But that option will be there at the draft. We're going to have the ability to acquire a player at the draft and keep pushing forward. When we had that first-round pick, it did spar conversations about improving our team using it."

But in the end, when 2 p.m. (CT) came and went, the Blues parted with a key center iceman and did not replenish it with any help from the outside, so it means the group that is in place now, including Thompson and a number of young players, have to somehow find a way to get a job done.

"I'm sure we'll meet tonight and tomorrow morning and go over everything," said Blues left wing Alexander Steen, Stastny's best friend who took the news hard seeing the best man at his wedding leave. "Where we're at (and) looking at the way that we've been playing this last six games or whatever, we've got some adjustments to make. We'll obviously start talking about that as soon as this is past."

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Blues' failures continue as losing streak hits six games with 4-0 loss to Predators

Back-to-back shutouts first since end of 2013-14 season, losing streak longest 
since end of same season; confidence lacking with playoff hopes dimming

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kyle Brodziak summed up the latest Blues loss to the Nashville Predators in eye-opening fashion.

"I think there's just a lot of guys who you just feel are not sure what to do, what we need to do," Brodziak said after another deflating loss, this time 4-0 at Bridgestone Arena in front of a national television audience on NBC.


Those aren't exactly words anyone wants to hear at this point with the Blues (34-25-4) in the midst of a six-game losing streak (0-5-1), their longest since the final six games of the 2013-14 season and first time they've been shut out in back-to-back games since the final two games of that 2013-14 season.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne makes a save on Blues defenseman Colton
Parayko during Nashville's 4-0 win on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena.

But this is the state of the Blues right now, broken, fragile and lacking any ounce of confidence.

Oh, and there are 19 games remaining to try and somehow scrape enough together to make a playoff push.

When told of Brodziak's comments, Blues coach Mike Yeo said, "Well, we’ll have to help him with that. We can’t sit around and hope that something magical is going to happen. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and we’ve got to get ourselves out of it right now. It’s pretty simple … the way to make any changes that we need to make. But ultimately it’s going to come down to work, that’s the only way."

The Blues aren't scoring goals; they've gone 140:24 since Vladimir Tarasenko scored with 24 seconds remaining in the second period of a 3-2 loss to San Jose last Tuesday. Not only are they breaking down on the offensive end, but they're breaking down in the defensive end, and a team like the Predators (38-14-9), who look the part of a Stanley Cup contender once again, attacked at every spot, at every angle and pounced on a vulnerable opponent, sweeping the season series by winning all four games.

And it certainly defies description, doesn't it?

"It does, but we’re going to have to figure it out, that’s for sure," Yeo said.

Better figure it out fast.

The start was exactly what the Blues expected from the Predators, and still had no answer for it.

Defensively, too many gaps, shoddy execution, and Nashville took advantage of it twice and could have been more had goalie Jake Allen, who fell to 2-13-0 his past 15 starts, not made some key saves. 

Colton Sissons made it 1-0 just 4 minutes 45 seconds into the game after Carl Gunnarsson took a hooking penalty, leading to a power-play goal. It came off a play in which both forwards (Vladimir Sobotka and Brodziak) were casually getting back into the play leaving a seam. Sissons got a feed from Kyle Turris and snapped a shot high short side on Allen.

And on the second Nashville goal by Kevin Fiala, which was a nice shot bar down from the low slot, Alex Pietrangelo was caught up ice after he couldn't handle a puck sent to him in the corner, and the Predators turned it into a 2-on-1, with Jay Bouwmeester fending it but backing up on the play. Fiala never passed and finished at 14:21 of the first period after Gunnarsson left the ice, perhaps not knowing Pietrangelo lost possession of the puck, but created a vulnerable situation with the odd-man rush.

That pushback? Well, that's a foreign word in the Blues' locker room.

Much like Friday's 4-0 bludgeoning to the Winnipeg Jets, who gave the Blues a reprieve in the third period, the Blues wilted in the second period Sunday. And it was more mistakes, more misplays, more poor play.

Scott Hartnell made it 3-0 when the Blues just spectated another play after Ryan Ellis' point shot was stopped by Allen, but the loose puck just lay there and Calle Jarnkrok calmly picked it up, slid it to the slot where the puck caromed off Hartnell's skate at 1:20.

And on the Blues' power play, Pietrangelo's careless turnover of the puck turned into a breakaway for Austin Watson, that same Austin Watson who scored a shorthanded goal in the Blues' third-period collapse here 12 days ago, beat Allen at 13:24 to make it 4-0.

"I don't know. I think a lot of times maybe we're a little too in between trying to be aggressive, being over-aggressive at the wrong times," Brodziak said. "When you're losing a bunch of games in a row, sometimes it happens where you're not too sure what's going on and you start pressing. As a group, we've got to figure it out. Somehow, we've got to start scoring some goals and giving our goalies some help and at the same time, playing smarter so we're not giving up chances that we gave up tonight."

As for Allen, the record looks bad, but during those 13 losses, the Blues have given him a total of 16 goals of support, it 1.23 goals per game.

Hard to ask even the greatest of goaltenders to live up to that kind of support.

"Yeah, it's a loss for words, but like I said before, I think between the guys in here, we've got to find a way to get out of it," Blues center Paul Stastny said. "That starts with us top guys, leaders, all the way down. If we're not going to score goals, we're never going to give ourselves a chance to win. Whether it's 4-0 one game, 5-1 another game, it doesn't matter. It feels like when we get down 1-0, all of the sudden we tend to sit back on our heels a little bit and in a building like this, that's the worst thing you can do."

Stastny also weighed in on Brodziak's comments and doesn't feel it's a helpless issue.

"Not helpless, I think in times like this, you need everyone on the same page," he said. "It can be tough sometimes. I think sometimes you're trying to do more and you're trying to do too much for the other guy."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) tries to battle through the
check of Predators center Ryan Johansen on Sunday in Nashville.

As for the state of the team? Well, it's in dire straits, and with the clock ticking on the NHL's trade deadline at 2 p.m. (CT) on Monday, it appears more and more likely this group will have to be the group to get to the postseason.

"I know that the togetherness is high. I’m not worried about that," Yeo said. "The confidence is obviously the issue. The mistakes that you’re seeing are between the ears, the lack of scoring is obviously a big issue. You’re pressing, and then you’re missing nets and when you’re pressing, you’re doing things that are creating turnovers or creating chances against. I would say that that’s the biggest issue right there."

On a positive note, if one can find one, Yeo was pleased with newcomer Nikita Soshnikov's debut.

Soshnikov, acquired for a 2019 fourth-round pick on Feb. 15, played 15:27 and had two shots and four hits in the game.

"Good first game by him," Yeo said. "He brought speed, he brought competitiveness, made a few plays. I thought he fit in well. He was physical in the game, so it was a good first game for him."

Soshnikov, who drew a penalty in the third with speed around the edge, played on a line with Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund.

"It's a good thing to get back playing after a while, but it’s a tough start, six consecutive games losing," Soshnikov said. "Circumstances is not good for us. We're playing our division right now and every game is like a playoff game. We've got to start winning games. I didn’t try to change something on the team. They've been good all season long and I just played my game. I'm trying to help my team right now. That’s my goal, to help the team, not my own reasons."

As for that playoff chase, the Blues remain in ninth place, one point outside of the wildcard.

* NOTES -- Yeo said that he'll have a better idea on defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who was placed on injured reserve on Thursday with a left knee injury.

It's evident with both Bortuzzo and fellow defenseman Joel Edmundson (broken forearm) off the blue line, the Blues are missing a lot of beef and ruggedness back there.

"Yeah, there’s no question," Yeo said. "I think those guys are a big part of our identity, as far as being a team that’s hard to play against in the defensive part of our game. But again, I still believe that we have the personnel that can get the job done."

Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz played his fourth game of the season and first since Dec. 21 at Edmonton. He logged 12:37 of ice time and had two shots and two blocks. Tage Thompson also returned to the lineup after both were recalled from San Antonio on Friday.

"Obviously a tough loss, but I thought I was decent," Schmaltz said.

Schmaltz is coming off a high-ankle sprain sustained with the Rampage that forced him to miss six weeks.

"I never went through a high-ankle sprain like that before," Schmaltz said. "It took a little more time than I thought. I feel good now, though, and just day by day get some more games in.”

"It was in San Antonio there. I caught a rut in the ice and bent my ankle in half. ... You can’t let it really affect you. You’ve just got to get healthy, focus on that, and then once you’re called upon and you’re healthy, you’ve got to make the most of it."

Thompson played 11:29 and had two shots playing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz.

Also, the Blues placed right wing Chris Thorburn on waivers Sunday. 

Thorburn has four assists in 33 games this season after signing a two-year, $1.8 million contract to essentially replace Ryan Reaves, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If Thorburn clears, chances are he'll be assigned to the AHL.