Tuesday, March 12, 2019

(3-12-19) Coyotes-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Pat Maroon sat at his locker stall Tuesday as if nothing happened.

But 24 hours earlier, a picture painted a totally different picture.

Maroon will be in the lineup when the Blues (36-25-7) continue their push towards the playoffs when they face the Arizona Coyotes (34-30-5) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Maroon was involved what appeared to be a collision with the boards during a battle drill and went down awkwardly and hard. He was putting no weight on his right leg, which suggested some sort of potential knee or ankle injury and was helped off the ice by the team's training staff.

Interim coach Craig Berube suggested to the media after practice that Maroon would be fine, much to the surprise of everyone, unless Maroon felt worse the following day.

As it turns out, Berube was right, and it was more precaution than anything, as Maroon said after the morning skate Tuesday.

"I just got stepped on. I got caught," he said. "I couldn't put pressure on it because we didn't know what was going on. Good thing I had cut-resistant socks. Just a little freak accident when you go down and something happens. I was just cautious at the time. I probably overreacted, but I was just making sure I was OK."

As it turns out, Colton Parayko's skate blade came down on Maroon's ankle and there was some fear that there could be some sort of severed injury. But that was not the case.

"Yeah, it was (scary)," Maroon said. "Obviously for me it was scary. A big man like Parayko's skate comes across you. Luckily I'm OK and nothing came about it. I was just nervous at the time and obviously anyone would be nervous when a skate blade comes across.

"Yeah, it was fine. It was just a precautionary thing. Just making sure I was OK. Just a little freak accident. When you have scary moments like that, a skate blade coming anywhere near you, you just kind of freak out and you kind of panic a little bit. We just didn't know if it was bleeding or what was going on. Just making sure everything was OK."

So Maroon will be on the line he started practicing with Monday, with Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz.

"I'm looking forward to tonight's game, another good test for us in Arizona," Maroon said. "Obviously we know what happened last night, but they're in the playoff mix and they've been playing good hockey lately. They're going to come out and play us really tough, so we've got to be ready."

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The Blues will continue on with line without leading goal scorer Vladimir Tarasenko, who missed Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss at San Jose and will be out a minimum of another week with an upper-body injury.

"Our line has been playing really well together, we've been generating a lot and starting to find that chemistry," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "At the same time, we've just got to find some different looks. It's not going to be the exact same way but there's still plenty of ways to have success, especially through the power play, having his shot there and how dangerous he is, just suck guys in, he's such a threat, it certainly changes things around that way."

Rookie Robert Thomas will step into the role vacated by Tarasenko and get a crack at the top line for the first time.

"His game's been improving for some time, he had a real good road trip I thought," Berube said of Thomas. "Really possessed the puck on the road trip, did some real good things with it, with Tarasesnko going down, hopefully he can go up there and help that line produce. He makes plays, he's a right-hand shot, it's a little different look up there for those guys. See how it goes."

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The Blues held a full skate that included injured David Perron (concussion), Carl Gunnarsson (wrist) and Alexander Steen, who sat out Monday's practice because of a maintenance day.

As for Perron, there was some confusion outside the locker room, more so among fans, as to Berube's comments about Perron and when he's ready to play, they have a spot for him in the lineup.

Some fans suggested that perhaps Berube was calling Perron out, but that's far from the case. Perron has missed the past 22 games and tonight will be his 23rd as he continues to skate and work towards his way back into the lineup.

"I'll tell you again, when he's ready to play, he'll let us know and we'll have a spot for him. It's simple," Berube said. "We keep talking about him every day and I get it, that's part of it all and that's part of your job, but he's not ready to play. So he's practicing with us, which is great, when David's ready to go, he'll let us know. That's basically what it boils down to.

"I didn't mean it that way and it's unfortunate it got out that way, but there's nothing I can do about that now."

As for Gunnarsson, the news isn't much different. He's missed the past 17 games.

"He skated after practice for a while there. He was sore today," Berube said. "It might take a little time for him to get back to where we need him. I don't know right now to be honest with you."

- - -

Goalie Jordan Binnington will start for the Blues; he is 12-2-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average .931 save percentage and four shutouts in his past 14 starts but has allowed seven goals his past two starts (1-1-0).

Blues forward Brayden Schenn has five points (two goals, three assists) in a three-game point streak, 11 points (three goals, eight assists) his past eight games.

Arizona, which is one points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, is coming off a 7-1 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

The Coyotes are 8-2-0 in past 10 games, 11-4-0 in past 15 games and have allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of past 15 games.

"We know Arizona and what happened last night, but we can't focus on that," Maroon said. "We've got to focus on what we can control and how we're going to play and dictate the play tonight. I think if we dictate the play and come with our forecheck, breaking out clean and doing the simple things that makes this team a good hockey team, I think we'll be alright, but we know they're going to come out full tilt tonight. Last night's over, but they're a good-working team and young, skilled and fast and we've just got to be ready for that."

The Blues are four points behind Nashville (with two games in hand) for second in the Central Division and five behind WInnipeg for first place while trying to gain more separation from Dallas (four points).

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Brayden Schenn-Ryan O'Reilly-Robert Thomas 

Jaden Schwartz-Tyler Bozak-Pat Maroon

Zach Sanford-Oskar Sundqvist-Alexander Steen

Mackenzie MacEachern-Ivan Barbashev-Sammy Blais

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches include Michael Del Zotto and Robby Fabbri. Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body), David Perron (concussion) and Carl Gunnarsson (wrist) are out. 

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The Coyotes' projected lineup:

Richard Panik-Christian Dvorak-Clayton Keller

Alex Galchenyuk-Nick Cousins-Christian Fischer

Michael Grabner-Brad Richardson-Vinnie Hinostroza

Lawson Crouse-Mario Kempe-Josh Archibald

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Jakob Chychrun-Alex Goligoski

Jordan Oesterle-Jason Demers

Darcy Kuemper will start in goal;  Calvin Pickard will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Kevin Connauton, Ilya Lyubushkin and Conor Garland. Derek Stepan (lower body), Antti Raanta (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (lower body) and Kyle Capobianco (lower body) are all out.

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