By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Zach Sanford's emotions are no different today than when he found out on Friday that he'd be making his Stanley Cup Final debut in Game 3 against the Boston Bruins.
"Just excitement," Sanford said. "There's a lot of players that have never got this chance and there's people who never even made it this far. To be able to get this opportunity, it's awesome and I'm just excited to be a part of it and hopefully come in and help the team get a win."
Sanford, who hasn't played since Game 3 of the Western Conference first round against the Winnipeg Jets, draws in for Oskar Sundqvist, who was suspended one game for his boarding penalty on Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who will not play for Boston and is listed as day-to-day.
Sanford will need to add a physical presence to the line with Alexander Steen and Ivan Barbashev, who have been a factor throughout the playoffs with Sundqvist.
"I think so," Sanford said. "That's been a lot of my mentality, trying to get ready and being ready for that physical game. As one of the bigger guys, I need to bring that and be throwing the body around and getting in on the forecheck. If I can do that and help out, I think we can be pretty successful."
The Blues had multiple options, including Mackenzie MacEachern and perhaps two-time Cup winner Jordan Nolan as options for one game, but Blues interim coach Craig Berube chose Sanford.
"Got some experience in the playoffs," Berube said. "He’s a good defensive player, penalty killer. So that was one of the reasons we went with him."
Sanford was born in Salem, Mass., roughly 30-45 minutes from Boston and grew up a Bruins fan as a kid. He said his mother found herself cheering momentarily in Game 2 when the Bruins scored.
"I was even talking to my mom. She was at the games in Boston and she caught herself cheering for the Bruins here and there and had to fix that," Sanford said. "It's pretty crazy how things work out like that, but I'm excited like I said before and it should be fun."
Sanford said the emotions will hit him when he thinks of his dad, Mike, who passed away before the season from a heart attack.
"I think about him every day," Sanford said. "This one's a little different like you said, but it's another thing hopefully I can just turn into some good energy."
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* Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko took part in the optional morning skate after missing practice on Friday due to maintenance reasons. He will play and put an eight-game point streak on the line (five goals, five assists), one off of tying the Blues record.
* Berube confirmed that forward Robert Thomas will not play, missing his second straight game, nor will defenseman Vince Dunn, who hasn't played since Game 3 of the conference final against San Jose.
* Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that Grzelcyk will not play tonight and will be replaced by John Moore, who hasn't played since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against Carolina.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko
Sammy Blais-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron
Robby Fabbri-Tyler Bozak-Pat Maroon
Zach Sanford-Ivan Barbashev-Alexander Steen
Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo
Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Michael Del Zotto, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Chris Butler and Ville Husso. Vince Dunn (upper body) remains day-to-day, and Robert Thomas (wrist) is out. Oskar Sundqvist is suspended for Game 3.
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The Bruins' projected lineup:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-David Backes
Marcus Johansson-Charlie Coyle-Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
John Moore-Connor Clifton
Tuukka Rask will start in goal; Jaroslav Halak will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Steven Kampfer and Karson Kuhlman. Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Chris Wagner (right arm) and Kevan Miller (lower body) are out.