By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The lineup the Blues roll out against the Washington Capitals today (7 p.m. on KMOX.com. stlblues.com, 98.1 HD3) will resemble as close to a regular season lineup as can be.
The Blues will roll out most of their veterans, including David Perron and Tyler Bozak returning from sore groin injuries. Perron will be making his preseason debut.
"It's pretty close," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of the lineup. "They're not at their full lineup, but it's a pretty decent lineup we're going to face tonight. Obviously minus a few key guys, but still a pretty good lineup we're going to face. Good opportunity here tonight to kind of gauge where we're at, at this point of camp."
It's a good opportunity for the Blues to see where they are chemistry-wise in game-like situations rather than just the development of guys playing together in practice.
"We obviously have a good lineup in," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "Some changes have been over the past week, so it's good to get to a group where we're just down to one group. We can all just be together and get some chemistry, see each other out there, all that kind of stuff. It's a lot nicer. I haven't skated with a couple of those guys for the first week or two of camp, so it's a little different having two groups going. But it's nice we're down to just enough skaters where we can skate with one group and getting close to the regular season, so we want to see more close to a lineup just to kind of build chemistry and get thing going."
Perron, who played into June with the Vegas Golden Knights, said getting into some preseason action is good but was fine if this particular year, he didn't.
"It's nice; you just want to get the first one out of the way," Perron said. "Obviously struggling with the groin/hip thing, but hopefully it's past us and it's been a good training camp. It's been fun to see some of the guys raise their level of play. You want to get involved in that, just feel the puck on the ice, make the right plays. There's not many games until the regular season and you want to get into the right habits and do that from the get-go.
"... It's a different thing for me this year because it was obviously a shorter offseason. Everything kind of feels different from the training I had this summer to the skating and so many things. I feel like if there's one year I don't need preseason, it's probably this year, but you can ask me again tonight and I'll say something different so we'll see. But it's definitely nice to get one out of the way."
Goalie Jake Allen also makes his preseason debut and will play the first two periods; Chad Johnson will play the third period.
"Comfortable in the net, reading the plays," Yeo said of what he wants to see. "Obviously athleticism, we know he's got that. Conditioning, he's done all that through the summer. It's seeing how game ready he is, that's the big thing. Him no different than all the players, you have to be able to track the play and read the play and react to it. I'm just anxious to see where he's at with that."
- - -
Tonight's game is a big audition of sorts for rookies Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, who will be playing with Ivan Barbashev and account for the fourth line.
The Blues will throw the kids out there and see how they react to playing with much of the veteran guys.
"It's going to be a little bit of a different role for a guy like Robert Thomas tonight than there was the other night when we were throwing him out there every third shift," Yeo said. "Obviously tonight, that's not going to happen. A little more time in between shifts, how you keep your focus, how you stay ready and how you take advantage of those shifts.
"The young guys are going out, they know their jobs are on the line and the older players are kind of pacing themselves. The older players are at this point in camp are starting to understand that it's time to dial it in, time to start getting ready for the season."
- - -
The Blues' projected lineup:
Patrick Maroon-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Sammy Blais
Alexander Steen-Tyler Bozak-David Perron
Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Jordan Kyrou
Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
Jake Allen will start in goal and play the first two periods. Chad Johnson will back up and play the third period.
- - -
The Capitals' projected lineup:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetzov-Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson-Lars Eller-Brett Connolly
Shane Gersich-Nic Dowd-Riley Barber
Liam O'Brien-Travis Boyd-Nathan Walker
Michal Kempny-John Carlson
Brooks Orpik-Christian Djoos
Jonas Siegenthaler-Madison Bowey
Pheonix Copley will start and play the entire game. Braden Holtby will be the backup.