By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- After giving it a twirl on the ice, defenseman Joel Edmundson and the Blues figured better to be safe than sorry early in the season.
Edmundson will not dress for the Blues (0-1-0) against the Chicago Blackhawks (1-0-0) at 7 p.m. today (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).
Edmundson has been dealing with a groin issue that he initially injured in a preseason game against the Washington Capitals on Sept. 25; he played the following game against the Dallas Stars on Sept. 28 but only played 13-plus minutes in that game.
Edmundson took part of the optional skate and there was an outside shot he could play, but with the Blues off until Thursday when they host the Calgary Flames to end this season opening three-game homestand, the thought is to be on the cautious side.
"Feeling good. It's early in the year so we just want to take it slow," Edmundson said. "I'm getting better every day, so that's all I can really ask for. It's nice to finally get back on the ice with the guys again.
"I've been with Ray [Barile] for the past couple days, so I'd say three days and it feels great. No issues right now. Just want to make sure, we've got a few days after this day, just want to make sure I come back 100 percent. [Thursday's] the plan. I can't guarantee anything, but it's looking like that right now."
With Edmundson out, that means Chris Butler will stay in the lineup and at least start off playing alongside Colton Parayko.
Butler played 15 minutes, 30 seconds on Thursday in a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets playing alongside Jordan Schmaltz.
"He played well last game, so don't get caught up in the who's with who," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of Butler. "When you look at the right side of our group I think we can interchange guys through the course of the game, we can through somebody out there differently, whether it's an offensive zone or defensive zone faceoff, we can tinker with some of those things. 'Dunner' and 'Borts' have had an awful lot of chemistry together so we're not afraid to use those guys against any line. And 'Buttsie' played a really strong game last game. He was easily one of our best last game, especially the execution part of his game.
"We've got a little bit of a break after tonight, so it would be foolish on our part to rush [Edmundson] in. We'd like to have him, big game and could have used him tonight against this team but with a few games off until our next game, I think it would be wise for us to play the safe card here."
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The Blues will get Robert Bortuzzo back on the blue line tonight, and Schmaltz will sit out in his place.
Bortuzzo served a three-game suspension for an elbowing incident on Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny and missed the opener Thursday.
"He brings poise, he brings a steadiness, he's sneaky good at moving the puck and advancing the puck up ice, he understands when there's a tape to tape play to be made and when there's not, he's willing and able to make the hard plays to get it out of the zone," Yeo said of Bortuzzo. "This game and the league right now, playing a team like tonight, if you're not getting the puck out of your zone, gaining lines, and helping your forwards getting into the offensive zone, than it's a pretty frustrating night."
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Forward Robby Fabbri also took part in the optional skate, but there is no timetable for his return.
At least that we know of.
Fabbri knows, but won't say.
After coming back from two ACL surgeries on his left knee, Fabbri has been dealing with a sore back, sore hip flexor and the latest being a Grade 1 groin strain.
"I have a date circled, but that's for me," Fabbri said laughing. "... I kind of knew (overcompensation in other parts of the body) coming in and definitely felt it playing those games. Playing the games, like the game in Iowa, I felt good and was able to play and you calm down after and you feel where you were using too much of what and things like that. It was good to get that training camp in and where I'm overcompensating and where I need to improve on and have this extra time to get ready."
Fabbri has played the equivalent of four periods (against Minnesota in Des Moines, Iowa and the first period at Columbus) in the preseason.
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It will be the 311th regular-season matchup between the Blues and the Blackhawks, but it will be the first for rookies Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas.
They each are looking forward to it after making their NHL debuts Thursday.
"I heard it's a huge rivalry, so I'm excited to get it going," Kyrou. "I'm sure I've watched a couple of them. They're really intense games, really back-and-forth games. It's a tough game. Everyone's really battling hard."
"I'm really excited for it. Always love those rivalry games," Thomas said. "It'll be a lot of fun."
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Maybe, just maybe, one day ... there will be a Schmaltz vs. Schmaltz head-to-head battle in the NHL.
At least in the regular season.
Jordan's younger brother, Nick Schmaltz, will be in the Blackhawks lineup tonight against the Blues, but once again, Jordan will be on the outside looking in.
Jordan played with Butler Thursday and had a solid game but is caught up in a numbers game right now.
Jordan and Nick's parents, Mike and Lisa, are in town and were at dinner Friday night at Ruth's Chris Steak House for Jordan's 25th birthday, which happens to be on Monday.
"Parents paid," Nick admitted. "... A little birthday gift and dinner.
"... I heard he played well the other night, so hopefully here he gets a chance one of these nights again when we play them. We've had a couple opportunities to play against each other, but he hasn't got in. We play them four times in the next month or something like that, so hopefully he gets a crack one of those times."
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Alexander Steen will play in his 900th NHL game tonight.
Vladimir Tarasenko has the most regular-season goals against the Blackhawks (14) than any other player dating to the 2012-13 season.
Ryan O’Reilly has 14 points in the past 14 games against the Blackawks (seven goals, seven assists); he has 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 31 games against Chicago.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Pat Maroon-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou
Alexander Steen-Tyler Bozak-David Perron
Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Sammy Blais
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Chris Butler-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
Jake Allen will start in goal; Chad Johnson will be the backup.
Chris Thorburn and Jordan Schmaltz are the healthy scratches. Joel Edmundson (groin), Robby Fabbri (groin), Carl Gunnarsson (knee, hip), Nikita Soshnikov (concussion) and Oskar Sundqvist (concussion) are out. Jabuk Jerabek continues to await visa paperwork.
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The Blackhawks' projected lineup:
Alex DeBrincat-Jonathan Toews-Dominik Kahun
Brandon Saad-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane
Chris Kunitz-Artem Anisimov-David Kampf
Marcus Kruger-Luke Johnson-Andreas Martinsen
Duncan Keith-Henri Jokiharju
Brandon Manning-Brent Seabrook
Erik Gustafsson-Jan Rutta
Cam Ward will start in goal; Anton Forsberg will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include John Hayden and Brandon Davidson. Corey Crawford (concussion), Gustav Forsling (wrist) and Connor Murphy (back) are out.
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