Monday, May 13, 2019

(5-13-19) Blues-Sharks Game 2 Gameday Lineup

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If it's as simple as the Blues are saying it is, then Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks today (8 p.m.; NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM) will produce a better result for the visitors.

With the Sharks taking Game 1, 6-3, thriving off multiple Blues turnovers and mis-management of pucks, the Blues knew they needed to fix something. And the mistakes made are definitely fixable.

"Obviously they're a good team and they're going to take advantage of turnovers and mistakes, which they did," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "It took us a long time to get to our game. We feel our game isn't flashy. It's kind of a grinding style that wears teams down I feel like we never got to that until later on when obviously we were down two or three goals. We've got to get to that early tonight and take care of the puck."

What the Blues have done a good job of parking bad results and turning them into a better one the following game, at least in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, even thought the results haven't always been in their favor. But the effort and execution always are much better moving forward.

"I've said it to you guys before, and it's we're willing to look in the mirror and know when we need to be better," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "We're honest with each other when we do need to be better. That's been the conversation here the last 24 hours and I expect a better effort tonight.

"... We've played, what, 95-96 games already. We know what our game looks like. We know when we're effective. We did it in very small spurts in the third (period of Game 1) there, but we're smart enough to know when we need to be better."

And for that, Blues interim coach Craig Berube didn't make any lineup changes, because he didn't feel like he needed to.

"I didn't feel there was any reason to make any changes," he said. "Like I talked about, the game itself (Saturday) was self-inflicted by us. We all have to be better."

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Face-offs will once again be key in this series, and after finally being able to slay Tyler Seguin and some of the face-off specialists for the Dallas Stars in the second round, the Blues found themselves a new nemesis: Tomas Hertl.

Hertl won 21 of 34 draws (62 percent) in Game 1 on Saturday for San Jose, and many of them came in key situations.

He was both face-offs in the defensive zone when the Blues were on their only power play, meaning they were forced to retrieve pucks instead of setting up shop in the offensive zone, and he won all six draws (four in the offensive zone) when the Sharks were on the power play, meaning the Blues were forced to chase pucks.

But the uniqueness of Hertl's style of he does down on one knee and grinds into every face-off and has his own style.

Blues center Ryan O'Reilly, who won 15 of 32 draws (47 percent) on Saturday and said Seguin was getting an edge by getting his skate in early, also said Hertl's style isn't something that needs much fixing.

"I don't think it's obviously too much of an adjustment, but obviously he's got great hand-eye and he's strong on his forehand," O'Reilly said. "It is kind of unique. You don't see that a lot anymore. I think [Joe] Pavelski would usually take that on his right side and have two guys on the strong side, but he's good at it with his timing. For us, it's we've got to find something to disrupt him and and get some confidence on our end going in there."

Schenn, who won just five of 15 face-offs Saturday (33 percent), said Hertl is a challenge in the circle.

"He's a big, strong, powerful guy, when he's on his backhand," Schenn said. "When he's on his forehand, not many guys really in the league do it any more where he goes to his forehand and drops to one knee. So it's something we're working on this morning. Obviously, he's had success at it thus far in the playoffs. On us, the centermen, we've got to do a better job getting the face-offs."

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Look for an inspired group when Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko hit the ice tonight.

Schwartz has done a number thus far, leading the Blues with eight goals and 12 points, but Schenn (one goal in 14 playoff games) and Tarasenko (one even-strength goal and just six points in 14 games) need to start producing.

"We've got to play tighter," Schenn said. "Obviously Schwartzy's having a great playoff so far, but me and Vladi have to get going here obviously to help the team win. We're guys getting in positions to produce offensively and we've got to do that this series. We've got to help the boys, and me personally, I've got to step up offensively and start producing."

Schenn was noticeable against Dallas in Game 7, with eight shots on goal, but had just four attempts on Saturday (one on goal).

"I felt like later on in the Dallas series, Games 5, 6 and 7, I felt like the game started to come," Schenn said. "Maybe not so much last game, but chances are there. You've just got to make the most of your opportunity."

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Berube confirmed that defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who missed Game 1 with a lower-body injury but skated on Monday morning, is close to returning but will not play tonight.

"Yes, he's very close to being a player," Berube said.

The Sharks did not hold a morning skate and aren't expected to make any lineup changes, but coach Peter DeBoer and select players will address the media at 6 p.m. (CT).

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas

Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist-Alexander Steen

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 will be Robby Fabbri, Michael Del Zotto, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn and Ville Husso. Carl Gunnarsson (lower body) is day-to-day.

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The Sharks' projected lineup:

Timo Meier-Logan Couture-Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane-Tomas Hertl-Joe Pavelski

Marcus Sorensen-Joe Thornton-Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi-Barclay Goodrow-Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon-Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan-Justin Braun

Martin Jones will start in goal; Aaron Dell will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Micheal Haley, Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed, Lukas Radil, Radim Simek and Antti Suomela. The Sharks report no injuries.

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