Thursday, October 11, 2018

(10-11-13) Flames-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues will get a boost on their blue line, with the return of Joel Edmundson and the debut of Jakub Jerabek, when they host the Calgary Flames today at Enterprise Center (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Edmundson has missed the first two games of the season with a groin injury, and Jerabek will make his Blues debut after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional 2020 sixth-round pick.

"I felt good the past four days in practice," Edmundson said. "I'm ready to get back out there with the boys. It will be a fun battle.

"The game looks a lot easier from up there (in the press box). I know once you're on the ice there's no time or space. Up top it looks easy, taking in how much time you have sometimes. I think to be successful tonight, we have to have a lot of communication on the ice so we know how much time we have out there."

The Blues (0-1-1) could use Edmundson after allowing 10 goals in losses to Winnipeg (5-1) and Chicago (5-4 in overtime) to open the season.

Edmundson will be paired with Alex Pietrangelo tonight.

"He's in tonight. I'm happy to have him back," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of Edmundson. "Huge part of not only our defensive group but our identity, being a team that's hard to play against.

"Obviously giving up 10 goals in the first games we played, having 'Eddy' back, that's not going to solve all those problems but it sure makes us harder to play against and a big defender for our team."

Edmundson will be feeling the jitters, since it is his first game of the season.

"Absolutely," he said. "I can already feel them. I'm excited. It's been a long summer. I just want to get out there and get the season going."

Jerabek has been skating with Robert Bortuzzo the past three days of practice.

"It's been a long time for me, and I just want to jump in," Jerabek said. "The systems are pretty similar with the other teams. There's just some details and hopefully, it's going to be good. ... Don't think about it too much and just play hockey, play my game. I'm going to do my best to fit in the lineup, fit in this team and be a good part of the team."

Blues coach Mike Yeo said the Blues need to see the 5-foot-11, 199-pound left-handed shooting Jerabek in a game before getting a read on what his game is all about.

"We've got to get him into a game and see what he can do here," Yeo said. "His practice, his week has been fine but you don't know until you can get him into a game and you can hear what you want to hear from other people and from what he's done in the past but we want to get him in and see how he fits with our group and our game."

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With Jerabek jumping into the lineup, it makes Vince Dunn a healthy scratch.

Dunn has had a tough start to the season that dates to training camp. Dunn was on the ice and made a tough read on a play that led to Jonathan Toews' OT goal against the Blackhawks as well as not getting a clear on a puck that led to the 2-2 goal in the second period.

A smooth player transitioning the puck out of his zone, Dunn has had some ups and downs in that area and it's evident Blues coaches want to see him hit the reset button.

But there was a knack that Jerabek had a tough camp in Edmonton and was on the cusp of being waived before the Blues traded for him.

"We don't know what Jerebek had. He hasn't had a camp with us, so I'm not really concerned with what he's done in Edmonton," Yeo said. "For me, I want to see what he does here. 'Dunner', he has a very big part of our future so that hasn't changed, nothing's changing there. The same with [Jordan] Schmaltz. We have eight healthy d-men. Two of those guys are out tonight, but we've got three games in four days here this weekend coming up so we'll see how things play out.

"... In every game he's played, first off, as a coaching staff, we have very, very high standards and belief in what [Dunn] can do and what he's going to be and we're extremely excited about it. Like most players, he's still a young player who's still trying to learn his craft. I think in every game we see with 'Dunner', you're going to see two or three outstanding, terrific things and we want to make sure we don't limit those, we want to continue to have those, more than anything, and not unlike everybody else, the back end in itself, we've given up 10 goals in two games, it's the consistency. It's making sure shift after shift you're going out and playing at the level you're capable of. That's in your preparation, that's in everything you do so when you step out on the ice you're a guy who can go out and be counted on. I'm not singling him out because as a group it hasn't been good enough. But we do have very high standards and hopes for him and we want to make sure we keep him accountable for that and keep pushing him to that level. We're not going to be satisfied with him doing two or three really good things because he's got talent. We're going to keep pushing to get to the level he can be."

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The Blues have had five days to stew over what has not gone right the first two games, and it namely involves their defensive play.

"We've got to clean up a lot of areas and this is a tough team to do that against," Yeo said of the Flames (2-1-0), who are coming off a 3-0 win at Nashville on Tuesday. "First off, our play with the puck has been very poor. Our puck management has been very poor. This is a team, they transition as quickly from defense to offense as any team that I've seen so far. They do a good job of creating the turnovers, their reaction time after that, how their 'D' get involved in the play, how their forwards buy time to enter pucks into the offensive zone to let those plays develop, and how they take advantage of misreads on defense, that's going to be challenging. At his point in the year, and maybe we've been guilty of it the first two games, is we're a little too worried about the other team now. We should be more focused on our game and imposing our game on the opposition and if we do that we should be hard to play against."

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Injured players Robby Fabbri (groin), Carl Gunnarsson (knee, hip), Nikita Soshnikov (concussion) and Oskar Sundqvist (concussion) all skated on Thursday but are unavailable to play.

It's the first knowledgeable skate Sundqvist has had with teammates since the concussion sustained against Washington in the final preseason game of the season that netted Tom Wilson a 20-game suspension, one in which Wilson is appealing.

"He's been out there a couple days, gotten on the ice," Yeo said of Sundqvist. "I don't have a timeline for you but happy to have him back with us."

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I'll have more later on the story of Blues rookie Robert Thomas staying at the house of Keith and Chantal Tkachuk, how he and Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk were teammates in London of the Ontario Hockey League, what they did on Wednesday at a high school field hockey game and how the Tkachuks watched Brady Tkachuk score his first two NHL goals for Ottawa last night against Philadelphia 

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Pat Maroon-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-David Perron

Alexander Steen-Tyler Bozak-Jordan Kyrou

Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Sammy Blais

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Jakub Jerabek-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen will start in goal; Chad Johnson will be the backup.

Chris Thorburn, Jordan Schmaltz and Vince Dunn will be the healthy scratches. Robby Fabbri (groin), Carl Gunnarsson (knee, hip), Nikita Soshnikov (concussion) and Oskar Sundqvist (concussion) are out with injuries.

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The Flames' projected lineup:

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk-Mikael Backlund-Austin Czarnik

Sam Bennett-Dillon Dube-James Neal

Michael Frolik-Derek Ryan-Anthony Peluso

Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin-Michael Stone

Juuso Valimaki-Rasmus Andersson

Mike Smith will start in goal; David Rittich will be the backup.

Mark Jankowski, Garnet Hathaway and Dalton Prout will be healthy scratches. Travis Hamonic (facial fracture) is out.

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