Saturday, November 23, 2019

(11-23-19) Predators-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The paperwork isn't complete, so veteran Troy Brouwer's debut will wait another day and Klim Kostin stays in.

Brouwer was hopeful of making his debut Saturday when the Blues (14-4-5) close out a four-game homestand against the slumping Nashville Predators (9-9-3), who are 0-5-1 their past six and allowed 31 goals, after signing a one-year, two way contract for $750,000 on Wednesday. 

The 34-year-old would have made his debut in Thursday's 5-0 win against Calgary but can't get the paperwork finalized for his working visa and thus will have to wait yet again.

Kostin, who has played in three games, has had moments where you can see the talent he can bring, but there's also the learning curves that a 20-year-old still is working through, and will get with more ice time.

"He's still young," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I haven't minded him to be honest with you. He's got to do things at a quicker level out there and that comes with time. I don't think he's quite there yet with doing things as quick as you have to at this level, but he's a big body, he's got skill, he can skate and he's got a good shot, but it's just about processing things quicker out there for him."

There was a power move Kostin made from his right to left in the third period Thursday that offered a glimpse of his size and skill level that took a solid save by Flames goalie David Rittich to keep Kostin from his first NHL goal.

"That's the stuff he can do and he has to do, a big body like that, but it's a lot of little things that take time to learn," Berube said. "He's up here doing it and he's getting some time, which is great.

"I think he's improved every year (since turning pro)."

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Don't think for a second the Blues will take another struggling opponent lightly, but the schedule has certainly been in their favor when it comes to struggling teams seeing the Blues on their schedule.

Calgary came into town on a five-game winless streak and got bamboozled here, and the Predators come in having allowed five or more goals, including nine once, seven once and six once, in four of their past six games. And on top of that, goalie Pekka Rinne has been pulled in three of his past four starts and will give way to Juuse Saros tonight.

What's hurt Nashville recently is a struggling penalty kill, particularly in two games against the Vancouver Canucks in which they've allowed an astounding eight power-play goals on nine chances. The Predators PK is four for its last 12.

"They're a high-scoring team 5-on-5, third in the league in goals-for," said Berube, whose squad is 9-1-2 the past 12 games. "They're a good 5-on-5 team. They probably are looking at their goals-against aren't great.

"They're a good team. We all know that. They're just going through something right now. It's going to be a tough game for sure. They play us hard."

The Blues won four of five matchups, including all three at home, against the Predators on home ice last season.

"They're more of a forecheck team than I would say," Berube said. "They come hard on the forecheck. They work extremely hard in the offensive zone, grinding it out, a lot like us. They play a lot of similar style like we do. They've got some real good players. [FilipForsberg's a real competitor out there, he's hard to handle, Josi, Ellis on the back end. They're good offensive defensemen, play a lot of minutes, 26 minutes or more, and they've got a lot of workers on their team that are going to come hard and play hard."

Predators coach Peter Laviolette said his team's misfortunes are attributed to being "something different every game. The target seems to be moving a little bit. When it happens, we address it and try to get better with what we're doing. There's some good things that we're doing and there are some things where we're shooting ourselves in the foot."

As for facing the Blues?

"They're tight, they don't allow a lot and then it's almost like they get you into a game where they're just playing good defense and they're tight and they're opportunistic," Laviolette said. "They're able to chip one in and then you're chasing against the team that's playing tight. We're going to have to be ready for them, I think just try to make the most of the opportunities that we get and be battle-ready against them. They're doing a good job defensively."

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Jordan Binnington will make his fourth straight start and sixth of the past seven; he's 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .960 save percentage and one shutout in two starts against the Predators.

It wouldn't be at all surprising to see Jake Allen get the start in the second of the home-and-home between these teams on Monday in Nashville.

Forward Zach Sanford, after doubling his season point total with four (one goal, three assists) Thursday, has five points (one goal, four assists) his past three games.  

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Tyler Bozak

Ivan Barbashev-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Zach Sanford-Robert Thomas-Oskar Sundqvist

Mackenzie MacEachern-Jacob de la Rose-Klim Kostin

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 include Carl Gunnarsson and Troy Brouwer. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Alexander Steen (ankle) and Sammy Blais (wrist) are out.

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The Predators' projected lineup:

Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson

Calle Jarnkrok-Matt Duchene-Mikael Granlund

Rocco Grimaldi-Nick Bonino-Craig Smith

Austin Watson-Colton Sissons-Mathieu Olivier

Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm-Dante Fabbro

Dan Hamhuis-Matt Irwin

Juuse Saros will start in goal; Pekka Rinne will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches will be Kyle Turris and Yannick Weber. The Predators report no injuries.

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