Saturday, January 5, 2019

(1-5-19) Islanders-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko will return and Joel Edmundson and Pat Maroon will be healthy scratches when the Blues (16-18-4) end a five-game homestand against the red-hot New York Islanders (22-13-4) at Enterprise Center (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Tarasenko missed Thursday's 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals with illness.

The surprise may be scratching Edmundson, who missed four games this season with injury but never as a healthy scratch.

"We talked and stuff and we want him to take a game here and watch," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "We've got a lot of defensemen, they're all healthy, so we have to make decisions.

"... His puck decisions at times, just being more aggressive in his play would be the main things."

Edmundson has seven points (one goal, six assists) in 34 games this season.

As for Maroon, it's been a tough go for the 'Big Rig.' 

Signed to a team-friendly one-year, $1.75 million contract to come home and be near his son and family and overcoming two injuries, including a back injury that required a procedure for a herniated disk over the summer that halted his training, it's been a slow go as far as production for Maroon, who has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 32 games.

Maroon was a healthy scratch for two games Nov. 9 and 11 earlier this season.

"Patty obviously hasn't produced like he's wanted to and like we've wanted him to," Berube said. "I think his effort's been there. I think he's been playing pretty good hockey the last 10 games but production is just not there, so we're going to get [Zach] Sanford in there tonight. Patty's working hard and he'll be ready to go when we need him."

Sanford was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey league on Friday and will play on a line with Tarasenko and Tyler Bozak.

"I think for a younger guy like me going down and getting those opportunities (in the AHL) to play in those crucial minutes is huge for my game and for my confidence," Sanford said. "A big part for me is just managing the puck better. The last few games I played here, I was having a few too many turnovers and not being too sure with the puck in places I needed to be more certain. It's going to be a big focus for me tonight is just being smart with the puck and not giving the other team any chances to come right back at us."

Berube said it's imperative to get Sanford, who has nine points (four goals, five assists) in 23 games, some time.

"He played really well in the minors, so he's back up here," Berube said. "We want to get him going."

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With the Blues going with seven defenseman Thursday and going back with six tonight and Edmundson out, Carl Gunnarsson slides in with Alex Pietrangelo, a pair that's bee reliable, it seems, every time it's together.

"Simple, I guess he's predictable for me at least," Pietrangelo said of Gunnarsson's game. "I like to get up in the play, be that extra guy on the rush, and he's predictable in his puck movement in a good way. You know he's going to make the right play, you know he's going to make the simple play. Sometimes I over-complicate it and it's nice to have a guy back there that I can trust. 

"All our 'D' are the same way. We're pretty predictable in the way we play to each other. That's why you see us change pairings so often because it's easy for us. We just seem to have good chemistry."

Gunnarsson, who returned Thursday after missing 20 games with a hand injury, feels the role is suited for him.

"He's more offensive than me, there's no doubt about it and he's good at it, too," Gunnarsson said of Pietrangelo. "I told Alex that too, he's putting up the points. He's good at it. He's an offensive guy. I'm not going to think twice about it. I'm trying to play my game and if there's a gap or whatever, I'll try to fill that. A big part for me is to let him play his game, too. Sometimes it just clicks and sometimes it works. I think we showed this last season, too. We were pretty good together."

Gunnarsson said he played with many guys in this role in Toronto, but the one he remembers well is Dion Phaneuf.

- - -

The Blues recalled Jordan Binnington from San Antonio Saturday morning and assigned Evan Fitzpatrick back to the Rampage after backing up Jake Allen, who will start tonight, the past two games.

Binnington went down and played three games for the Rampage; he's 11-4-0 there with a .927 save percentage.

Berube said with back-to-back games coming up Monday in Philadelphia and Tuesday at home against Dallas, to see Binnington get his first NHL start.

"We'll get him in there," Berube said. "We're just discussing that stuff and we'll come up with a plan here.

"... He went down, played three games, played extremely well, had a shutout last night, so he's back up and he'll back up tonight."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Robert Thomas

Zach Sanford-Tyler Bozak-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup. Healthy scratches include Pat Maroon, Joel Edmundson and Jordan Schmaltz. The Blues report no injuries. 

- - -

The Islanders' projected lineup:

Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier-Mathew Barzal-Josh Bailey

Michael Dal Colle-Leo Komarov-Joshua Ho-Sang

Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews-Scott Mayfield

Robin Lehner will start in goal; Thomas Greiss will be the backup. Healthy scratches include Luca Sbisa, Ross Johnston and Tom Kuhnhackl. Thomas Hickey (upper body), Valtteri Filppula (upper body) and Andrew Ladd (lower body) are out.

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