Thursday, January 10, 2019

(1-10-19) Canadiens-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Mackenzie MacEachern will make his NHL debut today when the Blues (17-20-4) host the Montreal Canadiens (23-16-5) at Enterprise Center (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

MacEachern, who will play with Sammy Blais and Ivan Barbashev on the fourth line tonight, is a 2012 third round pick (67th overall) out of Michigan State; he was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League Thursday morning where he had 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 31 games, but since returning from an upper-body injury, he had eight points (five goals, three assists) the past seven games, including two multi-goal games, after missing six with the injury.

"I'm excited," MacEachern said. "You dream about it as a kid, to play in the NHL. I got my first chance here. It's going to be easier playing with Sammy and Barby. I played with them my first two years pro, so it's going to be good to have some familiar faces with me.

"... It's nerve-racking coming in and playing your first game, but being familiar with faces, it's going to be a lot easier. I think we all played together at some point in our professional career, so I think we know each other's games and that's going to help going forward."

MacEachern, who played for Blues interim coach Craig Berube with the Chicago Wolves, adds an element Berube said can help the Blues, who have lost four of their past six games.

"He's been doing well," Berube said. "Good skater, big kid, scored two goals last night in San Antonio, so he's doing really well. He's got good speed, so it's good to get some speed up here and some size.

"... Just a guy that's been playing really well. He'll be good on the fourth line, a guy we can use out there to get on the forecheck and be physical, get to the net, get pucks to the net. We like his size and his speed."

MacEachern will get to play with one of his best friends in Blais, and the two of them will get that chance to skate in an NHL game together for the first time.

"He's one of my best buddies in San Antonio, so it's nice to see him play his first game tonight," Blais said. "... He works really hard, he's good on the forecheck. He's a big boy, so he likes to play physical. He's had some success lately in the 'A'. It's good to see him get a chance tonight."

With Blais and Zach Sanford in the lineup, that's three forwards that were in San Antonio at the start of 2019.

"Obviously that's awesome for him," Sanford said of MacEachern. "He's a pretty solid player all around, he's good in his own zone, he's strong on the puck, he's got a pretty quick release there. A few games I got to play with him down there this year, he's been pretty dominant. A coupel goals here, a couple goals there. You're going to expect to see him hard on the puck, making those little plays and getting to the net hard. He plays a game like that."

It's already been a rather long day for MacEachern, 24, who caught a flight out of San Antonio at 5:40 a.m. and arrived in St. Louis at 7:40.

"I got here, landed at 7:40, think got here at 8, got a quick stretch, get the bus legs out of me, go from there," MacEachern said. "... Long day but I'm running on adrenaline at this point so I'm taking it all in.

"After the game yesterday. We finished the game and I got called in the office and flew in this morning. ... That's a good night. There wasn't much sleep. I was pretty excited, obviously. Trying to make the most of it."

With MacEachern in the lineup, veteran Pat Maroon will be a healthy scratch for the second time in four games.

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Jordan Binnington will make his first home start tonight, getting the nod in goal.

Binnington is coming off a 25-save shutout Monday in a 3-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, his first NHL start; he became the 35th goalie in NHL history to win via shutout in his first start and second Blue behind Rich Parent, who blanked San Jose on Jan. 25, 1999.

"It'll be good to play in front of the fans," Binnington said. "Hopefully it's a good atmosphere tonight and hopefully get the fans a win and the team plays together nicely.

"It's just one game, right? You've got to take the same approach and continue to work hard and try to worry about your own job and give your team a chance to win."

Jake Allen, who started the past two home games, allowed seven goals on 32 shots total but those seven goals came on 19 shots and Berube wants to reward Binnington, a 2011 third round pick, with another start.

"He had a great game in Philadelphia and we're going back with him tonight, see what he can do," Berube said. "... I think he deserves another look. We went back with Jake last game, I'm just going to go with 'Binner' tonight."

Binnington will get the chance to go against Carey Price, arguably one of the best goalies in the league.

"That's pretty cool, but at the same time, it's just another game and trying to move in the right direction," Binnington said. "No one really cares about (Monday) anymore, right? It's just another game and like I said, hopefully we get a win here tonight."

Binnington has certainly injected some life into a lineup in need of it.

"He was calm back there," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of Binnington. "Moved the puck well, was simple in his saves. It was fun to watch. It was fun to see a guy come in with that kind of confidence and play that way. I think we did a good job, too, if eliminating those second opportunities, which we have done. It's good to see a young guy succeed like that."

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Regular fourth-liner Oskar Sundqvist will move up to the third line with Robby Fabbri and Robert Thomas.

"We like what we're seeing and also it adds size and some grit and speed to that line with Fabbri and Thomas," Berube said of Sundqvist. "Hopefully it will be a good fit."

And the Blues' power-play, which is 4-for-45 going back to Nov. 30 against Colorado, will get a look at some younger guys on it including Sanford, Fabbri and Thomas.

"I think a lot of ties back to what I said before," Sanford said. "We've all kind of waited for our chance. Tonight's a chance to show what I can do on the power play a little bit. I just have to stick to my game the same way, be harder around the net and be right out front, be making plays. Hopefully we'll be able to be clicking tonight."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Robby Fabbri-Robert Thomas-Oskar Sundqvist

Mackenzie MacEachern-Ivan Barbashev-Sammy Blais

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

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

The healthy scratch will be Pat Maroon. Tyler Bozak (upper body), Alexander Steen (shoulder) and Vince Dunn (lower body) are out.

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The Canadiens' projected lineup: 

Jonathan Drouin-Max Domi-Joel Armia

Tomas Tatar-Phillip Danault-Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen-Jesperi Kotkaniemi-Paul Byron

Kenny Agostino-Michael Chaput-Nicolas Deslauriers

Victor Mete-Shea Weber

Karl Alzner-Jeff Petry

Brett Kulak-Jordie Benn

Carey Price will start in goal; Antti Niemi will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Mike Reilly, Charles Hudon and Matthew Peca. Andrew Shaw (neck) and David Schlemko (upper body) are out.

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