Sunday, December 16, 2018

(12-16-18) Flames-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- So, the NHL admitted it was an error calling Vladimir Tarasenko for a penalty last night in overtime of the Blues' 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

The league informed Blues GM Doug Armstrong on Saturday that it was in error in calling a minor penalty on Tarasenko for using an illegal stick when he went and picked up teammate Colton Parayko's stick in the defensive zone after giving his to Parayko, who had lost his moments before on a puck battle behind the net.

After Tarasenko had given his left-handed stick to Parayko, he played with no stick himself for a bit before getting the chance to go grab Parayko's stick, which wasn't broken but was in the right corner. Referee Kendrick Nicholson called Taraenko for the infraction and gave the Avalanche a 4-on-3 power-play, but Ryan O'Reilly scored a shorthanded breakaway goal to give the Blues a 4-3 win.

After the game, there wasn't much clarity to the rule, and even in the locker room after practice Saturday, players were still confused by the decision. 

But Armstrong confirmed that the league informed him that Parayko's stick is no different than any other player's stick.

"So they said it's a mistake? Shouldn't be called? We won the game anyway, so it helps," Tarasenko said.

"At the end of the day, we won the game, so I really don't care now," O'Reilly said. "If we would have lost the game, there would be a lot of controversy for sure, but we won the game and it's a good lesson. It's a good understanding to know if we get in that situation again."

"You can tell I don't think anyone even knew the rule or maybe they did know the rule I guess technically," defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. "I still don't know the rule. I'm sure someone will explain it, but everything worked out in the end."

By the live reaction, the thought was that Nicholson whistled Tarasenko for using an illegal stick because it was broken, which it wasn't. As Tarasenko was near the penalty box with assistant captain Alexander Steen and the other officials, one of the linesmen was trying to explain what he did wrong, because Tarasenko didn't understand.

"They just said you're not able to take any stick off the ice (unless) it's your stick," Tarasenko said. "Then they said his stick is too tall for me. Good thing we figure it out.

"That's what I was assuming since Colton is a NHL PA member, so I was hoping he can know the rules better than me. I know you can pick up other guys' stick, but as soon as he told me stick not broken, I just had to pick it up. He was screaming for my stick, so I gave him my stick, I don't know. That's a weird situation, especially when we play 3-on-3, it's hard to play without the stick. 

"As long as stick not broken and as long as our guy's stick, that's what I was thinking. Pick it up, and actually, everybody was screaming to pick up the stick, the fans, Colton and other guys. It's a weird situation, but now we know the rules."

The Blues won the game, the mistake wasn't magnified, and all was well.

"Apparently his stick was legal," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "It was an honest mistake and got it straightened out today."

- - -

Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson will return to the lineup this afternoon when the Blues (12-14-4) close out a four-game homestand in search of their first three-game winning streak against the red-hot Calgary Flames (21-10-2) at 2 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Edmundson missed the past two games with a hand injury stemming from getting clipped by a Brock Boeser stick last Sunday against Vancouver, but Edmundson said there were other issues as well.

"He got my hand, but I got banged up a few places that game," Edmundson said. "I just thought a week off should be good for my body. It's easy when the guys are winning to sit out. It's good to see the team's success and I'm just excited to get back in there and help them. I don't know if I'll say it's the main thing, but I saw your tweets and you were a little wrong, so I wasn't going to say anything.

"I'm feeling a lot better. Finally nice to be back in the lineup tomorrow, so I'm pretty excited to get back out there with the guys."

Edmundson, who has seven points (one goal, six assists) in a team-leading 37 penalty minutes in 26 games, considered playing Friday against the Avalanche but didn't want to compromise the Blues' lineup coming off a 4-3 win against Florida.

"There was a chance, but figured why not give it another day or two," Edmundson said. "I think it's the best thing for my body and it's a long season, so why not? It worked out good. The guys got a big win last night and two wins in a row and we just want to keep it going. We have a tough team coming in, in Calgary. They've been hot lately. We need to play exactly the way we have the past few games."

- - -

For  second straight day and fourth or fifth since separating the AC joint in his right shoulder, Blues forward Robby Fabbri was on the ice again Saturday.

Fabbri has missed five games since that collision trying to make a check against the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 1. His initial prognosis was to be evaluated around Christmas and it's still on target.

"We're just taking it day by day," Fabbri said. "I'm listening to the shoulder. What I do that day depends on how I wake up feeling and how I felt from the day before.

"I knew right away. I was kind of more pissed than anything. I've had an AC (join sprain) before. Everyone gets them, but you know it when you feel it. I knew I was gonna miss some time again. That's the worst part of it. ... I'm sure we'll know here around Christmas what the time frame is and go from there."

The good news for Fabbri, who missed a year and a half with surgery performed on two ACL tears in his left knee, is that he will not need season-ending surgery on the shoulder.

"We got pictures done right away," Fabbri said. "I knew it wasn't surgery (needed). That's nice. That's not a whole season or season and a half. You've got to find the bright side in everything.

"It has been feeling pretty good. I haven't been taking many hits or anything like that. We're just listening to the shoulder. Right now, skating and shooting feels good. We're going to keep going with that."

- - -

Speaking of Bortuzzo, he was the lone expected skater not on the ice for practice on Saturday. It was revealed why and with good reason.

Bortuzzo was busy signing a three-year, $4.125 million extension ($1.375 million AAV) that will take him through the 2021-22 season.

Bortuzzo, who was acquired on March 2, 2015 from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Ian Cole and a 2016 seventh-round pick, is in his fifth season with the Blues and arguably playing his best hockey considering the Blues are minus Alex Pietrangelo (hand/wrist) and Carl Gunnarsson (wrist) and Jay Bouwmeester (hip) has needed time to get back to form following off-season surgery.

"I believe in what's going on here," Bortuzzo said. "The people in place, the guys in this room, very comfortable here, and I'm happy to get it done. Now it's just about winning hockey games and that's something I believe we're going to do here.

"Over the last 24 hours, there were some conversations. I think we made it easy between both sides. ... I signed it in the training room. Got it done. ... It was not a long process. I believe in the people here and what we have going. We put ourselves in a bit of a hole, but nonetheless, I think we've got a good group. I'm happy here and I'm glad they want me around."

Bortuzzo, 29, has one goal and two assists in 12 games; he played 21-plus minutes in three of the past four games, including a season-high 21:31 on Friday.

"He's been great," Berube said of Bortuzzo. "He plays a hard game, real good penalty killer, he's done a great job on the penalty kill. He's just a hard defender. He's had to play against. 

"All players want to play more, right? They all want lots of ice time. They all feel they can do the job. We trust our players if we can. He's physical. He's always in someone's face."

Bortuzzo made the shot block and ensuing assist that sprung O'Reilly loose on the breakaway Friday for the game-winner in overtime.

"He brings a lot. A veteran guy," O'Reilly said. "You see last night the play he makes, a huge block. Just so good defensively. There's never an easy shift against him. He makes smart reads. He's always in the right spot, always making a play, always making it tough on their guys. I think offensively, he's underrated too. He makes smart plays, he moves the puck quick. You know what you're getting and he does it every night. He's probably one of our most consistent guys. When he's in the lineup, you know what you're getting from him and when he does it, he does it well. It's admirable."

- - -

For the third time this season, the Blues have a chance at a three-game winning streak. In each of the previous two times, they faced the Minnesota Wild on home ice and lost 5-1 on Nov. 3 and 3-2 on Nov. 11. 

But there seems to be a different feel, a different mindset around the locker room, and O'Reilly put it best why the Blues are feeling that confident mood again.

In each of the last two wins, the Blues squandered a third-period lead. But they were able to regroup and find a way to get two points, even though Friday took overtime to get it.

"Bad stuff has happened throughout the game and we've stayed positive," O'Reilly said. "Everyone, from the coaching staff to every guy on the ice. Not being affected by it and just going out there and playing the next shift, getting back into the game, making a big play. When they get momentum back, you can see us, we're going on the ice and before we were getting in this mindset where we were thinking too much, like 'Oh shoot, what's going to happen now?' The last two games, we've done a good job like, 'OK, let's good. It's over, you can't go back. Let's go make the next play.' It's a good, mature mindset that we've responded well to the situations that we've been in. It's nice to see us get rewarded for it. Going forward tomorrow, it's probably one of the best teams in the league. It's going to be a tough challenge for us. It' a big opportunity for us.

"You get in that mindset of 'I don't want to get scored on. I don't want to make the mistake,' and that's what kills us. You see time and time again this year where we get in that mindset ... it's not that we're not working. Guys are working hard. Guys were more worried about things too much instead of being like, 'I'm going to go out here and make an impact or have a great shift. I'm going to make a good play here and be on the positive side of it instead of the negative way.' That's just something we fell into, but I think these last two games, I think we've responded the right way. It's a good lesson for us and we've got to take it right over to the next one."

The Blues will play their final game here before the Christmas holiday. They head to Western Canada for three games at Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary next week.

"It's our last home game before Christmas break," Edmundson said. "We want to leave the Blues fans with something to be happy about before Christmas. We haven't won three in a row this year. We're excited in here. There's a different feel in this room. Even in practice, guys are having fun. It's been a fun week. It feels good. We want to keep it going."

- - -

Oakville native Pat Maroon will be playing in his 400th NHL game.

The Blues assigned forward Zach Sanford to San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Saturday. Sanford had been a healthy scratch for two straight games after being in the lineup for 23 straight.

Tarasenko has no points the past six games.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-David Perron

Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas

Jordan Nolan-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester-Robert Bortuzzo

Vince Dunn-Chris Butler

Jake Allen will start in  goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch is expected to be Jordan Schmaltz. Alex Pietrangelo (hand/wrist), Robby Fabbri (shoulder) and Carl Gunnarsson (wrist) are all out.

- - -

The Flames' projected lineup:

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk-Derek Ryan-Sam Bennett

Andrew Mangiapane-Mark Jankowski-James Neal

Austin Czarnik-Alan Quine-Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin-Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington-Rasmus Andersson

Jon Gillies could start in goal; David Rittich would be the backup. 

The healthy scratch is projected to be Dalton Prout. Juuso Valimaki (lower body), Michael Stone (blood clot) and Michael Frolik (lower body) are all out. Mikael Backlund (concussion) and Mike Smith (undisclosed) could be available for Sunday. If Smith is available, he could get the start.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait for this thriller. Got to see this one myself.