Friday, May 3, 2019

(5-3-19) Stars-Blues Game 5 Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Joel Edmundson probably felt as bad as anyone that his parents, Bob and Lois Edmundson, made the trek from Manitoba, through St. Louis, all the way down to Dallas and to find himself a healthy scratch.

But this is a business, and Edmundson, who will return for Game 5 on Friday in the Western Conference second round series against the Dallas Stars (8:45 p.m.; NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM), knows it.

"If my parents are there or not, I just want to be on the ice no matter or what," said Edmundson, who will replace Robert Bortuzzo and play alongside Alex Pietrangelo. "They had a good trip, they hung out with the Schwartz's the whole time. They had a great time, they would have loved to watch me, but they understand it's a business. They know how hockey works. They'll be here tonight."

But rest assured, Edmundson, who was a healthy scratch for Games 3 and 4, is jacked up to get back in and be the physical force he's expected to be.

"Yeah, absolutely. I'll be the first one to admit that the first two games of this series, they weren't my best games," Edmundson said. "You sit out a couple games, you get to see the game from a different angle. I'm just looking to get back out there and bring the physicality. I'm paired with Petro tonight, so hopefully we'll get in a nice rhythm and we're getting going every other shift. ... Emotions were high the other night, and I think we're a little better team when we're playing a little pissed off. I'm looking forward to the battle tonight.

"I've played with [Pietrangelo] a lot over the last couple of years. We just have good communication, we talk before every shift and we just support each other all over the ice. He makes me a better player when I'm out there, which is nice. Hopefully it's the same way. He's more offensive, so when he's jumping up in the play, I've just got to cover him up. Same when it goes for me."

Pietrangelo said it's no issue playing with Edmundson.

"This time of year, everybody's ready to rock and roll," Pietrangelo said. "Eddy's going to have an edge for sure, but he's out there every day with us. We've played a lot of minutes together, so it'll be good."

Blues interim coach Craig Berube could have used some of Edmundson's physicality in Game 4 when things got chippy at the end of the second period and throughout, but he expects Edmundson to be better coming back in.

"Joel, over the course of the year, has done a real good job of playing against top players and doing a good job of it, shutting them down," Berube said. "We need a physical edge from him, for sure, but defending against some of their top guys."

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Jordan Binnington's gamesmanship took another funny twist on Friday morning.

It was brought to Binnington's attention after the morning skate that Stars coach Jim Montgomery felt that Binnington may have lost his cool a little bit in Game 4. 

Binnington had the classic response.

"Who is Montgomery," Binnington said, really not knowing who the reference was to.

Then when told it was the Stars coach, he said, "He can say what he wants. I just take care of what's me. You know. I don't really care."

And that's that.

Nor should Binnington care, nor should he worry about what someone else is saying about him.

So when things were blown up about Binnington jabbing at Stars captain Jamie Benn after taking a shot in the groin area, or chopping at Stars goalie Ben Bishop as he's departing the ice at the end of the second period, it's all business.

"Sometimes the game's not going your way," Binnington said. "You try to change the wind in the sails. Playoff hockey. Stuff's gonna happen. I think we finished the game strong, so hopefully we can bring that into tonight.

"I'm still learning as I'm going. The team's been great. Just trying to prepare the same way every day and give my team a chance to win. So that's just what I'm focusing on, and hopefully we get some more wins here."

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Looking back at their Game 4 gaffes, the Blues believe the mistakes that were made from the 4-2 loss are fixable.

"Yeah, it's just a little slow in our coverage coming back into our end, but we gave them too many rush chances," Pietrangelo said. "Puck management really is where it starts with. It's fixable kind of what we gave them."

The Blues played slow, their gaps were too big and their forecheck wasn't as effective as needed.

"I think a lot of it has to dow with preparation, the way we come to play, just being ready for puck drop," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "Just even throughout the game, we did a lot of good things that we improved upon throughout the game, and obviously the third period was really good. It's just one of those things where we want to be ready for puck drop.

"... That's one of the things that we emphasize is making sure that we just start in our o-zone, we want to be on top of their forwards as soon as they get the puck and hopefully make it tough on them to generate the speed, generate the opportunities. A lot of their goals were off of turnovers. Just maybe making sure that we limit those and tight gaps."

- - -

Needless to say, it's not been the kind of series many were expecting from Ryan O'Reilly on the dot.

One of the top face-off men in the league, O'Reilly has had his issues this series, particularly with Stars center Tyler Seguin on the draws.

Breaking it down, O'Reilly has won just 19 of 58 draws when going against Seguin throughout the series, or 32.7 percent, which is well below his season average of 56.9 percent.

The breakdown is: 8 of 18 in Game 1, 6 of 16 in Game 2, 3 of 12 in Game 3 and 2 of 12 in Game 4.

Speaking of gamesmanship, O'Reilly feels there's some of that going on here.

"He puts his skate in the dot, which I find is troubling," O'Reilly said of Seguin. "I talk to the linesman and kind of get him to back up. They will warn him and then it's back to the same thing. It's tough to find that rhythm right now."

In others words, Ryan, find subtle ways to gain an edge yourself?

"For myself, I need to be better in that area," O'Reilly said. "I have to try new things, I won't be specific, I'm not going to hide that, but I have to try new things for sure."

O'Reilly, who has lost 56 face-offs in this series alone, does have eight points (two goals, six assists) in 10 playoff games.

- - -

Robert Thomas, arguably the Blues' best player in Game 4, has some new roomies on board at the Keith and Chantal Tkachuk household.

Matthew Tkachuk and Brady Tkachuk, whose respective seasons are over with the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators, respectively, are back home for the summer.

Thomas has been staying with the Tkachuks for the past season.

"I've got all the boys back at home now," Thomas said. "They're all down at the games. It's always great. [Keith] always shows me different little things to think about when I'm out there. It's always great having that little bit of extra help.

"I've still got my room, still got the whole basement there. Definitely a little more excitement in the house."

Thomas, who scored his first NHL playoff goal in Game 4, was effective all over the ice, making plays, creating scoring chances and enhancing the line with Pat Maroon and Tyler Bozak.

"I think for me, I have a little bit more of a different feel going into the game where I'm more confident in myself and I know I can really make a big impact in the game," Thomas said. "I think for myself going into the game, it's just a little more of a different mindset."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko

Brayden Schenn-Oskar Sundqvist-David Perron

Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas

Robby Fabbri-Ivan Barbashev-Alexander Steen

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Carl Gunnarsson

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

Healthy scratches include Robert Bortuzzo, Michael Del Zotto, Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn and Ville Husso. The Blues report no injuries.

- - -

The Stars' projected lineup:

Jamie Benn-Roope Hintz-Alexander Radulov

Jason Dickinson-Tyler Seguin-Mats Zuccarello

Andrew Cogliano-Radek Faksa-Blake Comeau

Jason Spezza-Justin Dowling-Tyler Pitlick

Esa Lindell-John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen-Roman Polak

Taylor Fedun-Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop will start in goal; Anton Khudobin will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Valeri Nichushkin, Gavin Bayreuther, Brett Ritchie and Landon Bow. Jamie Oleksiak (lower body), Marc Methot (lower body), Martin Hanzal (back) and Stephen Johns (upper body) and Joel Hanley (upper body) are all out.

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