By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Two practices, albeit brief ones, is all Marco Scandella got before he makes his Blues debut on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes (7 p.m.; FS-MW, ESPN 101.1-FM).
Scandella, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday for a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2021 fourth-round pick, will suit up and play alongside Colton Parayko, sliding right into the spot vacated by Jay Bouwmeester.
"Absolutely. Super excited," Scandella said. "I got a good practice today, so ready to go.
"It's going to be great to play with [Parayko]. I played against him for many years. Big guy, can skate, move the puck, so we're going to build that chemistry and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Scandella will slot in and make Robert Bortuzzo a healthy scratch tonight.
"He's a big guy," Blues coach Craig Berube said of Scandella. "When he was in Minnesota, he was a defender. Big guy, plays physical, good defender, good stick. Two big guys out there that we can play against anybody, be hard on the other team, be hard on top players on the other teams. 'Bouw' was there for a long time with Parayko. This is a similar fit that I see."
Scandella got in some time Wednesday and participated in a lightly-populated optional skate and today's morning skate.
"Absolutely, play my game," Scandella said. "My game is a pretty simple game. Play into the system and have fun out there.
"A veteran group, a really tight knit group so it's really easy to blend in. Come into this room and everyone's been accepting, warming, so it's been good.
"We're 60 games into it, so I feel really good right now. Just try to keep it simple tonight. Have some fun, enjoy it. Home game, with the crowd, have some fun."
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said it's important for the Blues to keep a good, experienced group on hand at all times.
"We all know him as a player," Pietrangelo said of Scandella. "When he was in Minnesota, we played against him, so I think everyone’s familiar with him. I played with him as the world juniors, [Ryan O'Reilly] had him in Buffalo. It’s always nice to walk into the locker room and know a few guys.
"It’s good to have experience, right? You’re not going to replace 1,400 games, however many games [Bouwmeester's] played. Certainly a guy that’s been around for a long time. I don’t know how many games he’s played, but he’s been in the playoffs, he’s had experience. He’s familiar with the division, which helps too because he played in Minnesota for so long."
O'Reilly was Scandella's teammate in Buffalo in 2017-18.
"He brings a lot," O'Reilly said. "He's a guy that does so many things well. I got a chance to play with him before. Obviously a great guy too and comes in and fits with our group very, very good. He's a guy that can keep it simple. He's hard to play against and suits our mold. I think it's a good pickup for us. I think it's going to help us out a lot.
"I think he does a great job with the way he moves and the way he distributes the puck, simple at times. There's a lot of similarities there in the way that they move and the things they do out there. It'll be a great addition for us."
Scandella has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 51 games between the Sabres and Canadiens and was a plus-10 for two underachieving teams. Fitting into a new system will come on the fly.
"That will take time, but he's just got to be aggressive and play his game," Berube said. "We want him to be a good defender, use his shot, but the system stuff will take time like it always does, but he can still be a good player by having and aggressive mindset, move the puck quick, get up in the play and use his shot. That's what he does."
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Forward Oskar Sundqvist was the lone absentee at the morning skate, but will play.
Berube said Sundqvist took a maintenance day and is good to go.
Jacob de la Rose and Mackenzie MacEachern took turns in Sundqvist's spot on he fourth line with Ivan Barbashev and Sammy Blais. Both skaters continue to wait their turns to get into a crowded lineup.
The Blues play a heavy schedule and will likely shuffle guys in and out of the lineup.
"Possibly. Yeah, for sure," Berube said. "We're going to look at that to see if we can get them in. They've got to stay patient. It's tough, but it is what it is.
"We've got I don't know how many games in seven days. Five in seven, that's just a lot of hockey. We've got to monitor guys going out and rest and all that stuff. We need energy."
Vladimir Tarasenko (dislocated shoulder) skated for a third straight day and fourth time since Feb. 6 with the team as he continues to rehab from surgery on his left shoulder on Oct. 29; he was injured Oct. 24 against Los Angeles.
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The Blues have lost six of seven against Arizona, including 0-1-1 this season, and have been outscored 26-11 in those seven games.
"We haven't scored enough goals against them," Berube said. "Their goaltenders have played extremely well, whoever it is in there going back a couple seasons. For me, we have the puck a lot against these guys but we don't get in on the inside enough for me. We've got to go downhill a little bit more, get to the net a little more and get some dirty goals against them. That's what I see. They've got good speed. We've got to do a good job against their speed tonight. They've got some players up front that c an really skate and get up the ice."
The Blues are tied atop the Western Conference and Central Division standings with the Dallas Stars, who they will play tomorrow night, and have a chance to go back on top with a win or point tonight in a schedule that continues to get tight.
"At this point in the year, you’ve got to use everybody, whether it’s players, goalies, whatever it is," Pietrangelo said. "Back-to-back, three in fours, we threw in that Anaheim game, another three in four with a long flight, so we’ve got to be smart, the way we take care of ourselves, the way we practice, the way we prepare, I think everybody knows who sat down and talked about it how hard it’s going to be moving forward. That’s not even getting to the fact that a lot of teams we’re playing are fighting for a playoff spot, us included. So it’s going to be a fun little stretch for us.
"We were building. In Nashville, I think we didn’t get the result that we wanted but we felt like we had control of that game and took over that game. When you’re building, you feel confident in your game and I expect the same thing."
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Ryan O'Reilly-Brayden Schenn
Zach Sanford-Robert Thomas-David Perron
Alexander Steen-Tyler Bozak-Jordan Kyrou
Sammy Blais-Oskar Sundqvist-Ivan Barbashev
Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo
Marco Scandella-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Justin Faulk
Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Robert Bortuzzo, Jacob de la Rose and Mackenzie MacEachern. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder) and Jay Bouwmeester (cardiac episode) are out.
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The Coyotes' projected lineup:
Taylor Hall-Christian Dvorak-Conor Garland
Lawson Crouse-Derek Stepan-Vinnie Hinostroza
Clayton Keller-Nick Schmaltz-Phil Kessel
Carl Soderberg-Brad Richardson-Christian Fischer
Jakob Chychrun-Alex Goligoski
Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jordan Oesterle-Ilya Lyubushkin
Antti Raanta is expected to start in goal; Adin Hill would be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Michael Grabner, Barrett Hayton and Aaron Ness. Darcy Kuemper (lower body) and Jason Demers (lower body) are out.
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