By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Klim Kostin will likely make his NHL debut when the Blues (12-3-5) begin a four-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks (9-9-2) on Saturday (7 p.m.; FS-MW, ESPN 101.1-FM).
Kostin, the 31st pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, was recalled on Wednesday with the Blues in need of an extra forward in light of injuries to Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder) and Alexander Steen (ankle).
Kostin, 20, had eight points (three goals, five assists) in 14 games with San Antonio of the American Hockey League.
Blues coach Craig Berube wasn't committed to saying Kostin would play on Saturday after not playing in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday; he will address those questions at 5:30 p.m. today.
Look for Jacob de la Rose, acquired from Detroit for Robby Fabbri last week and has no points in three games with St. Louis, to be who Kostin replaces and play with Tyler Bozak and Sammy Blais against the Ducks, who are winless in five straight (0-3-2).
Another lineup change expected is Robert Bortuzzo, a healthy scratch the past eight games, to replace Carl Gunnarsson on the blue line.
The Blues did not hold a full morning skate on Saturday; only Jordan Binnington, who will start in goal, professional tryout candidates Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn as well as Gunnarsson and de la Rose were on the ice.
The Blues are 7-0-2 the past 10 games and will look to extend their point streak to 10 games in David Perron's 800th NHL game.
- - -
The fabric of the Blues' fourth line is exactly what they gave them during the Stanley Cup Final last summer against the Boston Bruins.
Forechecking, puck possession, forcing turnovers, hit anything that moved, and with gaining confidence, play more minutes and against the top players.
Mackenzie MacEachern is quickly learning to grasp what Steen did with Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist on that line and how they have had the ability to shut down anyone they're on the ice against.
And now, that line has the ability to produce on offense.
MacEachern scored again on Friday, and he has four points (two goals, two assists) in seven November games and is identifying as a key member of the Blues moving forward.
"Last year in that second half, especially in that playoff push, I think they created their own identity," MacEachern said. "I think they were playing the most minutes on the team and were a hassle to play against and again to start the season as well. Obviously things got changed around, so I would slide in there. I just try to do 'Steener' does, try to be a responsible player and gets in on the pucks. I just try to feed off that so they don't lose a step. I try and incorporate my speed and my body as well and kind of create space for them down low and create plays."
Barbashev has five points (two goals, three assists) in November, and Sundqvist has one goal and three assists in November, giving that line a combined 13 points in seven games (five goals, eight assists).
"They're a huge part of our team," Berube said. "They set the tone, I think, game to game on how we want to play it with our forecheck, physical play, just skating and hounding. They've been really good, that line, and they're popping in a goal here or there, which is really important. They do a lot of little things for us out there every night. They're a big part of the team.
Berube started the line for eight straight games, and for the first time, the line didn't start on Friday, but it shows just how much the Blues value the line's contributions.
"I think it gives our line confidence as well that [Berube] kid of trusts us to start the game and create the pace that he wants for our team," MacEachern said. "I think that's part of our role, that we kind of have to bring that energy, especially those back-to-backs when the team might be a little low on energy and they kind of lean on us for the energy. That's pretty cool, especially to start the game and we can build our game from there.
"With all our speed and all our abilities, we kind of mesh together. Barby and Sunny are good with the puck, so I just try and get the puck to them, get in on the forecheck and get it to them as quick as I can and go from there. Chief giving us that confidence to start games and giving us more and more minutes has enabled us to play with more confidence out there as well."
- - -
The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Sammy Blais
Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron
Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas
Mackenzie MacEachern-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist
Colton Parayko-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Justin Faulk
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.
Healthy scratches are expected to be Carl Gunnarsson and Jacob de la Rose. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder) and Alexander Steen (ankle) are out.
- - -
The Ducks' projected lineup:
Nick Ritchie-Ryan Getzlaf-Ondrej Kase
Rickard Rakell-Adam Henrique-Jakob Silfverberg
Max Jones-Sam Steel-Troy Terry
Devin Shore-Derek Grant-Carter Rowney
Jacob Larsson-Cam Fowler
Michael Del Zotto-Erik Gudbranson
Brendan Guhle-Korbinian Holzer
John Gibson will start in goal; Ryan Miller will be the backup.
Healthy scratches are Nicolas Deslauriers and Josh Mahura. Josh Manson (lower body) and Hampus Lindholm (lower body) are out.
Post a Comment