Sunday, January 31, 2021

Husso nets first NHL win with 25-save effort in 4-1 win over Ducks

2014 fourth-round pick, once touted as goalie of future, battled way to 
finally crack NHL roster, backs up teammates after slow start Sunday

The Blues knew all along with a compressed 56-game schedule that they were going to have to count on Ville Husso.

And even after Jordan Binnington had a lighter than usual night on Saturday facing 24 shots in a 6-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Blues stuck to their game plan of alternating the duo on back-to-back nights in order to give Binnington proper rest.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brayden Schenn (10) congratulates Ville Husso 
after the Blues goalie earned his first NHL win. 

Blues fans were a little skeptical but really hadn't known too much about Husso, the Blues' fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. His NHL experience had been relegated to one start a week ago Sunday against Los Angeles and a third-period relief appearance against Colorado on Jan. 15. So the jury was still out.

But Husso injected life into a lifeless Blues squad early, and once his teammates got going, it was hugs galore as the final horn sounded for the Helsinki, Finland native, who made 25 saves and earned his first NHL win in a 4-1 Blues victory against the Ducks on Sunday to sweep the two-game set at Honda Center.

Husso, who had been touted as a goalie of the future since he was drafted, has overcome a number of speedbumps on his road to the NHL, including injuries, and an ankle injury in particular during the 2018-19 season that saw Binnington and not Husso, jump into the spotlight and take over the reigns as the No. 1 netminder during the Stanley Cup season.

But his four years at the American Hockey League level paid off, and once the Blues traded away the reliable Jake Allen for salary cap purposes and thrust Husso into the spotlight as Binnington's backup, it was the shot of confidence the franchise felt in him all along, and a good building block to get the first win out of the way Sunday.

"I was happy for sure and it was a big win for us as a team too," Husso said. "Big road trip for us, big points.

"I think it's a good way to come into the league. The first couple of periods when I play, it was like pretty hard. I think it's good for mental too to jump in and just battle. That was for sure a big win today."

The Blues (6-2-1), unlike Saturday when they set franchise records for fastest two goals to start a game (57 seconds) and fifth-fastest in NHL history to start a game with three goals (2:06), came out sluggish, turning pucks over and spending too much time in their own end.
And when Jakob Silfverberg scored a power-play goal on Anaheim's second shot of the game to give the Ducks (3-5-2) a 1-0 lead, there was perhaps a sense of a here-we-go-again feeling since the Blues came in 0-2-1 on the second of these two-game sets.

But Husso, who didn't face a tremendously high volume of shots, kept the Blues in the game with some clutch bail-out saves and holding it to a 1-0 game after the first.

Once the Blues got their legs under them and started managing the puck better, they took control of the game and thanks to their goalie, he enabled them to do that.

"'Huus' was a big factor for us," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "He made some huge saves and we kind of figured we had to get going here and help him out. I thought he played an outstanding game. We knew they were going to come extremely hard. We knew we had to kind of weather the storm a bit. We did that, it wasn't pretty, we hung on and you could tell there was no panic. We started to find our game. Some guys made some key plays at key times and once we got one, we knew we were going to keep going from there. It was a good win."

Husso allowed four goals in the third period of that 8-0 shellacking at the hands of the Avalanche Jan. 15, then made 29 saves on 34 shots in a 6-3 loss to the Kings that left his goals-against average at 7.01 and save percentage at .813. Not exactly bubbling with confidence-type numbers. But he lowered those numbers to 4.40 GAA and .865 save percentage.

"The two games previous that he's been in net for us, we've just been terrible in front of him," O'Reilly said. "We knew we had to kind of recover and get going for him. It was great to see some of the saves he made, they were unbelievable, could have changed the whole game, but he held on, stayed confident and we finally got going, started making some plays and it was good composure by him for sure."

Husso had the composure for sure, making the initial save, and instead of flipping and flopping around, was upright immediately and square to shooters if he didn't control the rebound. The Blues had no choice but to perform better for their soon-to-be 26-year-old rookie.

"I thought Ville Husso played really well, kept us in ... made some big saves in the first period, kept it a 1-0 game," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I thought we got better as the game went along. We capitalized on some chances.

"(Husso) made some big saves in the first period."

His biggest may have been when he lunged from his right to left and robbed former Blues farmhand Andrew Agozzino in the second period of a 1-1 game. Sammy Blais scored seconds later to give the Blues a 2-1 lead and never look back.

"It was a big save at that point, but it's a team game," Husso said. "Guys scored four goals and that's usually when you win.

"We have been working hard with (Blues goalie coach Dave Alexander). That's for sure helping me. Just need to keep working hard every day and battle."

It could have been real easy for Husso to doubt himself after allowing nine goals on his first 48 NHL shots, but he finally realizes that for the Blues to have success, he's going to be counted on. Binnington had started seven of the first eight games.

"Every day when you come to the rink and you put your work in, you want to get better and for sure there's days you lost the games, but I just tried to stay positive and we worked hard with Davey," Husso said. "That was a big thing for me. I trust this team 100 percent. I knew that the win will come at some point."

They trusted him tonight to make the saves when needed and allow everyone else to follow suit with a strong performance.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Ville Husso makes one of his 25 saves Sunday and earned
his first NHL win in a 4-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks.

"Yeah, obviously drafted a couple of years ago and obviously he's probably been waiting for this moment," said Blues center Brayden Schenn, who scored twice to extend his current-best NHL point streak to 10 games (six goals, four assists). "So for him, he was very good for us tonight. I don't think we've played as good as we need to the past game and a half in front of him and tonight he held us in it early, made some quality saves and (was) very deserving of his first win. So that will be a good confidence booster for him, and we have two solid goalies and we need them to win hockey games for us, and that's the first of many for him."

When the game ended, it was 5:31 a.m. in Helsinki where Husso's parents and other family and friends were hopefully watching his first NHL victory.

"I think my parents and probably a couple friends," Husso said. "I'm not sure. I think parents watched the full game and that's nice."

Blues start fast, close strong in 6-1 thrashing of Ducks

Score three goals in team-record 2:06 to start game to set 
pace for outcome; Kyrou leads way with two goals, assist

Nobody saw that coming.

But the Blues will surely take it, and perhaps the extra days' rest did them good, but the Blues hit the Anaheim Ducks with a sledgehammer early and often Saturday night before they knew what hit them.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Justin Faulk (72) and Jordan Kyrou celebrate one of Kyrou's two goals on
Saturday in a 6-1 Blues win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. 

The Blues scored three times in a franchise-record 2:06 to start the game, including two from Jordan Kyrou, who finished with a three-point game for the first time in his NHL career during a 6-1 blitzing of the Ducks at Honda Center.

It started with a Kyrou goal 20 seconds into the game, then Zach Sanford scored 37 seconds later for a 2-0 lead, which also was a franchise record of two goals in the opening 57 seconds to start a game and broke the old record of 59 seconds set Oct. 24, 1991, and Kyrou made it 3-0 and close the book on Ducks goalie John Gibson, who left after allowing three goals on six shots. This after allowing just 13 goals on 225 shots in seven starts to begin the season.

The three goals in 126 seconds to begin a game is the fifth-fastest in NHL history behind Washington (81 seconds Dec. 19, 1986), Detroit (108 seconds Dec. 4, 1987), Boston (119 seconds Nov. 20, 1946) and Detroit (122 seconds Oct. 29, 1981).

"That was probably the quickest start I ever had in a hockey game," Kyrou said. "I was a little surprised myself."

Kyrou, who has 10 points (five goals, five assists) this season, surpassing his nine points (four goals, five assists) in 28 games a season ago, is benefitting from playing with more of a purpose away from the puck in the battle areas, causing havoc and creating turnovers.

"One hundred percent," he said. "Biggest thing is compete and that's always being on the puck, always being tenacious and creating those turnovers. When you can do that, you get more chances and the more chances you get, the more times you can put it in the net. Just got to keep that up."

The Blues (5-2-1) couldn't have scripted it any better scoring three times before the Ducks (3-4-2) even got their first shot on goal.

"Yeah, that was a great start for us," Sanford said. "It's kind of exactly what we want to do, and just attack right away and play hard and play aggressive and we were able to get those three (goals) pretty quick. I think from there we let off the gas a little bit, but you know we were able to bring our game back up later in the game and kind of get back to that start we had."
For goalie Jordan Binnington, it's a nice change of pace having a bird's eye view after being bombarded last Tuesday against Vegas to the tune of 46. 

"Yeah, that's a good start for sure," said Binnington, who faced 24 shots and stopped 23 of them Saturday. "We came out hard with the right mindset. A couple of days in between games, so I really liked what I saw there. We had a great start. Some skilled plays and capitalizing on chances, so it was good to see."

The Blues (5-2-1), who won for the fifth time this season on the front end of the two-game sets, had some extra life and juice to begin a game after their game against Vegas Thursday was postponed because of COVID-19 protocols on the Golden Knights. 

"Rest is always good," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Guys have a little more jump maybe. Who knows why, but I thought our guys were prepared, business-like in the morning for the skate and they were prepared.

"We always want to get off to a good start and we got a couple bounces that went our way and we capitalized on them and scored early, which is always good. They pushed back. Their captain got involved and I thought they came at us pretty hard at the end of that period."

Former Blue Ryan Miller came on and helped stabilized the Ducks the remainder of the period and through the first six or seven minutes of the second, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf did his part to get his team back into it by engaging in a fight -- well, more like a wrestling match -- with the Blues' Kyle Clifford 3:31 into the game, and when Max Jones cut the Blues' lead to 3-1 late in the first, that next goal was the critical one.

A Ducks goal, and it's back to game on. A Blues goal and it's game over.

The Blues pushed and pushed to begin the second, came wave after wave and had the Ducks on their heels, and when David Perron sniped one from the high slot off a Ryan O'Reilly pass 7:30 into the second to make it 4-1, it was curtains.

"I thought our team was really good in the second period," Berube said. "I thought we came at them hard, had some good opportunities. I thought we did a good job in the second period. To me, that's probably the difference in the game."

"There were some periods in the middle of the game where we got away from our game and we were letting them control the pace and the play and we were able to get back to ours in the second half of that game," Sanford said. "It's always good when you get right back into that style of play and play how we want to play and not let them dictate it."

The Blues didn't let Anaheim, which came in scoring a paltry 1.4 goals per game (14 total) through eight games, get any momentum in the third period either, and when Clifford scored at 2:59 to make it 5-1 and put him on the brink of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with an assist -- he didn't get it -- and Vince Dunn, a healthy scratch in Vegas Tuesday, scored a power-play goal at 5:17 to make it 6-1, it marked the most complete game since the season-opening 4-1 win at Colorado.

"I thought Dunner was really focused, really moved the puck well, was aggressive all over the ice," Berube said.

Dunn finished with 17:58 of ice time, and had two shots and two blocks, but Justin Faulk had another solid game and was a plus-4 on the night to take over the NHL lead at plus-10, had four shots and a team-leading six hits.

Berube mixed up the d-pairs and played Faulk with his former World Championships partner Torey Krug, and Berube went back to his shutdown pair of Marco Scandella and Colton Parayko.

"I thought Krug and Faulk really jumped into the play tonight and they were good there," Berube said. "Scandy and Parayko, they do their job defensively, big guys, hard to play against. I thought Dunner and (Niko) Mikkola were excellent tonight. Mikkola closes plays out, he's aggressive. Dunner moved the puck really well, I thought, scored a goal. It was good to see. I thought he had a good game."

Now comes the key: winning again and gaining a series sweep, something the Blues haven't done as of yet, going 0-2-1.

"We just need to keep playing really aggressive, keep playing really hard," Kyrou said. "We can't hold back at all just because we won today. It's going to be (a chance at) our first back to back (series) win." 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist (70) checks Anaheim's Sam Steel during 
action Saturday in St. Louis' 6-1 win at Honda Center.

"I mean it's just one game in the series tonight and tomorrow is going to be a completely different game, and we know that," Sanford said. "We've got to prepare for that, but I think these two-game mini-series all year, there's going to be some tough games and it's going to be hard to sweep a team, especially on the road."

With a lighter than usual workload, it's conceivable Berube comes back with Binnington on back-to-back nights. This coaching staff hasn't gone down this road before, and Ville Husso could get the nod with Binnington starting and playing seven of the eight games this season.

"Yeah, I feel good," Binnington said. "We're staying on top of each other, and ourselves and getting our rest. The strength coach is doing a great job keeping the boys informed, and we're really all starting to buy in, and we've got a lot of work to do, but it's a unique season - short - and it's going to come at us quick. We're doing a good job so far taking care of ourselves."

Saturday, January 30, 2021

(1-30-21) Blues-Ducks Gameday Lineup

David Perron learned a valuable lesson during the Stanley Cup season on what it was like to be a healthy scratch as a veteran player.

Not only did Perron use it as motivation but it made him a better player and knowing that his coach at the time, Craig Berube, will pull no punches with anyone, no matter their name or ties to the game.

Vince Dunn is now in that boat after being a healthy scratch Tuesday, he is expected back in the lineup for the Blues (4-2-1) tonight when they begin a two-game, back to back set with the Anaheim Ducks (3-3-2) at 8 p.m. (FS-MW, ESPN 101.1-FM).

The 24-year-old Dunn was removed from the lineup in the 5-4 shootout win against the Vegas Golden Knights and was likely to return against Vegas on Thursday before that game was postponed because of precautionary measures stemming from the league's COVID-19 protocols.

Dunn, who has a goal and an assist and is a minus-3 in six games, is expected to be paired with Niko Mikkola.

"I think he's probably trying to do too much," Berube said of Dunn. "A couple times just with the puck, and he got beat 1-on-1 there. It's just stuff like that and there's no need for it, to be honest with you.

"Everybody's different and everybody reacts different. I'm just looking for Dunn to come back and get to his game and play his game. He was pulled out for mistakes that he's made and he's got to clean then up. We're just looking for him to be more direct and little more intense in his game."

Dunn struggled with his game when the Blues came back during the Return to Play Plan last season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs after having arbuably his best season during the 2018-19 Cup run.

The Blues know what kind of player Dunn is and expect him to get back to the form he's displayed in the past. 

Dunn signed a one-year, $1.875 million contract as a restricted free agent Dec. 31.

"I think it's on us veteran guys to pull him along," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "We know how good he is, and he's going to bounce back and find his groove. It's tough when you look at the depth of our defense, our d-core. We have a lot of good bodies that are fighting to get in the lineup right now and it's tough, but he's still a big piece and it'll be nice to see him back."

- - -

Sammy Blais will enter the lineup for just the third time this season in place of the injured Tyler Bozak, who will not play this weekend after sustaining an upper-body injury Tuesday against Vegas midway through the second period following a blindside hit from Vegas captain Mark Stone.

Blais, who is a plus-1 this season with zero points, played well in the opener against Colorado this season but then was set back from a two-game suspension handed down after he clipped Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews in the head.

"It was a tough break, but it's all in the past now," Blais said. "I'm just concentrating on tonight's game and trying to do my job. ... A little bit (surprised by the suspension), yeah. There were some hits after my hit that I thought were worse than mine, but I accept their decision and it's in the past now. Just trying to move forward.

"... I'm excited. I've been sitting the last couple games. Just going to try and do my job tonight and play the way I know how to play and try to help the team get the win. ... The games I've been in, I did pretty good and I did my role. I'm just going to try to keep doing the same things tonight."

Blais will play in a line with Robert Thomas and Mike Hoffman.

"(I need) just for him to play his game, his physical play," Berube said of Blais. "He's a physical player. He really does a good job with the puck. He hangs onto it, he makes plays. I think he might help that line out, a little more puck possession in the offensive zone. A physical presence on that line."

Blais has found it tough to crack the lineup this season, aside from the suspension. It's been a crowded house among the Blues' forward lines, and with the additions of Hoffman, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Kyrou on a regular basis, Blais has found himself on the outside looking in more times than not.

"It's been pretty hard," Blais said. "Just trying to stay positive, work hard. I have no control over that. When I'm on the ice, I'm just trying to do my job and help the team win and I'm just going to try and do that again.

"We are a really good team every year. We have a lot of depth. There are some guys that are not playing every night and are still good players. I'm just trying to do my job out there and I'm going to try and do it tonight."

- - -

The Blues are going into a two-game set with the Ducks knowing it's going to be a grab your lunch pail and go to work kind of game.

There will likely be no pond-style plays, no up-and-down action after Berube called the Ducks a "meat and potatoes" team on Friday.

"They clog up the middle of the ice really well in their own end," Berube said of the Ducks. "There's not a lot of room out there. You're going to have to work to get on the inside and really get shots through with people around the net. They do a good job. They've been in a lot of low-scoring games. So we're going to have to work for our goals."

Anaheim has allowed only 17 goals this season, or 2.13 per game, but have scored just 14, or 1.75 per game.

"They do a good job of keeping guys out of the middle of the ice," O'Reilly said. "Obviously goaltender (John Gibson) is really good too, provides a tough challenge that way. For us, we have to be smart and make sure we're holding onto the puck and not just forcing plays but let them develop and wait for those Grade A opportunities. It'll be a good challenge for us tonight and that starts obviously with forechecking as well too. You get there and hopefully build our game out from that that hopefully leads to some good offense.

"This game's going to be a heavier, a little more of a grinding game at both ends of it. They're a hard-working team as are we. It's not going to be as run-and-gun as there are some teams we've played recently that are like that. The staples of our game have to be there. We have to be sharp, be physical, do those little things well and making it hard on no matter which d-pairing it is or which forward line it is. We have to be physical and wear these guys down because it's a tough back to back."

- - -

Other than Bozak, Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), who has missed the past five games, is on the mend and getting closer to a return but won't play tonight.

- - -

Good news on the home front with right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, who posted on his instagram account of his sticks and skates, an indicator he's on the ice and training.
Tarasenko had surgery on his left shoulder Sept. 17 and was given a five-month timeline for reevaluation by the Blues.

"When we have Vladi, it makes us that much more dangerous. It's nice," O'Reilly said. "We hope it's getting close here and we'll have him back soon. His presence and the things he does in the game, he's one of the few guys in this league that can just make something out of nothing. He provides so much for us. We'll be excited to have him back, and hopefully it's soon."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou

Sammy Blais-Robert Thomas-Mike Hoffman

Kyle Clifford-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Colton Parayko

Niko Mikkola-Vince Dunn

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Ville Husso will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Carl Gunnarsson and Jacob de la Rose. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Tyler Bozak (upper body) and Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) are out.

- - -

The Ducks' projected lineup:

Max Jones-Ryan Getzlaf-Rickard Rakell

Danton Heinen-Adam Henrique-Jakob Silfverberg

Maxime Comtois-Sam Steel-Troy Terry

Nicolas Deslairiers-Derek Grant-Carter Rowney

Hampus Lindholm-Kevin Shattenkirk

Cam Fowler-Jani Hakanpaa

Ben Hutton-Jacob Larsson

John Gibson is expected to start in goal; Ryan Miller would be the backup.

The Ducks report no healthy scratches. Josh Manson (oblique muscle), Sonny Milano (undisclosed) and Brendan Guhle (MCL sprain) are out.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Blues take advantage of strange day following postponed game

Instead of playing Vegas, team uses time to practice before heading 
to California; Wainwright makes pitch as hockey player following error

The Blue were all set to play the second of a two-game set with the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday when things suddenly changed.

The players had woken up early Thursday morning ready to go through their daily gameday routine, which included a morning skate at T-Mobile Arena in preparation for a game. But when the NHL postponed the scheduled game due to caution over COVID-19 protocols involving the Golden Knights, their coaches and so far, one player (Alex Pietrangelo), gameday turned into practice day.

"It's different obviously," defenseman Colton Parayko said Friday. "You get ready, you wake up in the morning getting ready for the game, obviously the night before too the preparation starts. We knew what was kind of ahead this season and the different challenges that we were going to have to face, obviously this was something this was a possibility somewhere throughout the season. I guess at the end of the day, you just prep for the game and prep as best as you can. I guess if that happens, you've got to refocus and we had a good practice yesterday morning in Las Vegas there and came to Anaheim. We got a good day out of it and now we're here in Anaheim and looking forward to tomorrow and playing them.

"You never know. Obviously I think we had a couple teams right at the beginning that didn't even get a game in before they had their protocol in. It's kind of one of those things where you've got to be aware of it and be ready for it, but you don't expect it obviously and you kind of expect to be playing. That's how you want to prepare and be ready for each game."

The Blues did take the ice for an optional morning skate and it was around that time that the league had rendered its decision. No makeup date has been announced yet, but instead of leaving the ice, most of the players took advantage of a chance to get some practice time in and hone in on some things they feel necessary to work on. They practiced and then headed to Anaheim much earlier than expected. 

"I thought we had a really good practice yesterday and high intensity," Parayko said. "Worked on a couple different things. There's not a lot of practice time where we can do the X's and O's. You take that time to gear up for the next game and a lot of it's just done through video work right now and in between games. It was good to get a practice day and good to work on a few things even though it wasn't a scheduled practice day. Good to work on some things, keep moving forward and now looking forward to Anaheim."

The Blues are scheduled to play against the Anaheim Ducks Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.), and before Thursday's cancellation, were in the middle of six games in nine days and 14 in 24. So that made practice time in between tough to attain.

"I think any time we can get out there and have a good skate and work on things, it's going to be important because it's going to get compressed even more," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "You're not going to have the time to work on things and we've got things we've got to clean up and get better at.

"It's obviously a little bit weird. That's what we've got to be ready for this year. This could happen, who knows how many times. We've dealt with it, moved on and we got out there and had a practice and let's get ready for tomorrow."

With Vegas only having the one player entered into COVID-19 protocol, but others, such as Detroit and Washington, that had multiple players entered in but having to play their games as scheduled, it begged the question of why the Blues and Golden Knights didn't go ahead with their game.

"That's the league stuff to be honest with you," Berube said. "I'm not going to sit there and worry about what happened and why we didn't play. If you guys want to find out more, you should probably contact the league and all that.

"I was fine with (playing Tuesday, a 5-4 shootout win). I was fine playing the game and I would have been fine playing in Vegas the next (game). It is what it is. I was fine with playing the game Tuesday."

As of Friday afternoon, the Blues have had no players listed on the league's COVID-19 protocol list.

"So far, so good," Berube said. "There's always going to be concern the whole season, right? That's what you've got to deal with. You've got to be mentally strong about it all. I get it. It's not easy, but there's always going to be concern."

* On defense for the Blues, Adam Wainwright? -- That's right, the Cardinals pitcher, who's spent his entire career in St. Louis and signed a one-year contract on Thursday, was mistakenly reported to have signed with the Blues.

Wainwright, was obviously excited by the news based on his Twitter account:

So of course the 39-year-old was going to play along and decided to put out a skit on his twitter account also and put in an audition of sorts:

Even though the Blues are in California, word got around quickly that they have a new teammate.

"I like it. Big defender," Parayko said. "I saw the skit. He had the back catcher mask on. Got him in the uniform, get him out there, takes up a lot of the ice. Big, big body out there. Might have to partner up with him and we would just throw our sticks on the ice and hopefully take up a lot of space."

So it begs the question of what position would the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Wainwright be best suited at in the NHL? 

"That's a good question. I think just for his size and what not, I've got to say he's going to be a good d-man," the 6-6, 230-pound Parayko said. "He takes up a lot of space, he'd be tough to play against. A lot of forwards probably don't want to get to go to the net against him. I'm going d-man."

* Bozak out, Bortuzzo doubtful -- Blues forward Tyler Bozak is not expected to play in either game against the Ducks this weekend after leaving Tuesday's win in Vegas due to an upper-body injury. 

Bozak was the recipient of a blind side hit from Vegas' Mark Stone, who was given a two-minute interference penalty but was not suspended.

Sammy Blais is expected to replace Bozak, who has two assists in seven games, in the lineup.

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is doubtful for the opener against the Ducks, according to Berube, but will skate Saturday and then the team will reassess where he is in terms of potentially being available Sunday.

Bortuzzo, who has missed the past five games also with an upper-body injury, was checked from behind Jan. 15 against Colorado and Valeri Nichushkin, an incent that also was not reviewed by the NHL's Department of Player Safety. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Blues-Golden Knights game postponed

NHL calls game off for Thursday after a 
Vegas player, coach entered COVID-19 protocol

The NHL announced early Thursday afternoon that as a result of a player and another member of the Vegas Golden Knights coaching staff entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, tonight's game against the Blues has been postponed.

It was released on Thursday afternoon that the Vegas player turned out to be former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, who was added to the list due to 1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the positive test protocol; 2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the positive test protocol; 3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the positive test protocol; 4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or 5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol.

Said players who are on the list are unavailable to their teams to practice, travel or play in games due to COVID protocols.

The decision was made by the league's, the NHLPA’s and club’s medical groups after recent tests warranted more caution while the league continues to analyze test results in the coming days.

The Blues, who defeated the Golden Knights 5-4 in a shootout on Tuesday, are slated to fly to Anaheim for a two-game set against the Ducks on Saturday ad Sunday.

The Golden Knights played the game Tuesday with its entire coaching staff, including head coach Peter DeBoer, in quarantine and were coached by the Golden Knights' American Hockey League coaches from the Henderson Silver Knights and Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon.

Vegas' training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed until further notice. 

The NHL is in the process of reviewing and revising the Golden Knights’ regular season schedule and it is expected that a decision on next week’s games will be made in the next 24-48 hours, including tonight's scheduled game. 

The Blues do not have an extended break in their schedule until March 7 when they're off from March 7-11 before scheduled to host Vegas March 12-13. They also have off days March 21-25 after playing two games in Los Angeles and two in Anaheim. The Blues end their regular season at Vegas May 7-8.

The Blues, instead of holding an optional morning skate prior to the game tonight at T-Mobile Arena, held a full practice instead. They were to do a media session afterwards but that was canceled.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Bozak will not play Thursday, Blais to step in; Blues need to cut shots 
down; more fans allowed into home games; top line producing more recently

Blues forward Tyler Bozak won't play Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights, according to coach Craig Berube, after sustaining an upper-bod injury on Tuesday.

Berube said Bozak is day to day "as of right now" with an upper-body injury after he was hit high from Golden Knights captain Mark Stone near center ice at 13:29 of the second period of a 5-4 shootout win for the Blues at T-Mobile Arena. Stone received a minor penalty for interference, and Bozak did not return to the game.

Blues forward Brayden Schenn wad first to engage in Stone after it and ultimately fought defenseman Justin Faulk, who received the appreciation of his teammates.

"That's how you build a team," Schenn said. "Bozie's obviously a huge piece to the locker room, loved by a lot of guys in our room and for Faulker to do that the first chance he got, obviously that's what shows the boys are connected and love each other around here. There's no reason for someone to do that with the guy without the puck. It's kind of a play that obviously is pretty dirty and the guy's out now. Good thing we've got lots of games to take care of it."

The league had made no announcements of any pending hearing for Stone, so there will be no punishment.

"It was just a very unnecessary play," said Blues forward David Perron, who was hoping the league would look at it. "It was not very smart. It was great to see Faulker do that. I think Schenner was close too. I saw him look at the replay. A couple other guys were not happy with it."

Bozak has played in seven games for the Blues this season, posting two assists.
Sammy Blais is expected to rejoin the lineup in Bozak's spot on the wing with Mike Hoffman and Robert Thomas in the middle.

"Sammy's played two games this year and he's played pretty well to be honest with you and it's a numbers game," Berube said. "That's why he's not in there all the time, but I think he's played pretty well. 

"He's a heavy player, he's physical, strong on pucks. He's going to get his looks offensively, he always does. Just play a solid game, 200-foot game and be a heavy player out there for us."

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo skated today for the first time since he was also the recipient of a high hit against the Colorado Avalanche and Valeri Nichushkin, who also didn't receive supplemental discipline, on Jan. 15. 

Bortuzzo has missed the past five games and there is no definitive timetable for when he may return to action.

"First time on the ice," Berube said. "I don't know guys. It's one day on the ice here for him so we'll see how it goes for him."

* Cutting down the shots -- The Blues have been the model franchise when it comes to shots against in the league.

In the past 10 seasons going to 2010-11, the Blues have been in the top 10, including No. 1 overall in 2011-12, in shots against, which includes fourth or better eight times. Since the 2007-08 season, they've been in the top 10 in 11 of 13 seasons.

And even though it's just seven games, the Blues rank among the worst thus far in 2020-21 at 33.3 shots per game, which is 26th.

Berube spoke of killing plays in the defensive zone after the shootout win Tuesday and being able to stand the opposition up better at the blue line, which are a couple of contributors but it goes deeper than that.

"That's part of it and just not being aggressive enough overall," Berube said. "I think it starts in the offensive zone, personally, (with) forechecking, reloading, breaking plays up. That's where it all starts and we've played some games this year where we've given up in the 20's. That's where we want to be. That's where we've been the last two years and we've got to get there, but we've got new players and it's just a new year, so we've got to keep hammering away at it and get it right."

The Blues are incorporating newer players into the lineup, including defensemen Torey Krug and to a certain extent, Niko Mikkola, along with forwards Mike Hoffman, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Kyrou being a regular this season.
There's always an adjustment period and it's still early on in the year," Schenn said. "We've got to keep harping on it and coming together as a team and kind of creating that chemistry, kind of getting guys on the same page. It's going to come and it will come. Obviously early on, we've been too loose defensively and relied on our goalies to make big saves for us and they have bailed us out and they have made big saves. We've just got to do our part in helping them and not giving so many grade 'A' chances to stop."

Since 2007-08, the Blues were fourth last season (29.6 shots per game), fourth in the Stanley Cup-winning season of 2018-19 (28.6), third in 2017-18 (29.7), sixth in 2016-17 (28.4), 15th in 2015-16 (29.7), second in 2014-15 (27.2), third in 2013-14 (26.4), second in 2012-13 (24.2), first in 2011-12 (26.7), second in 2010-11 (27.7), 16th in 2009-10 (30.2, the only season at 30 shots or higher), seventh in 2008-09 (28.5) and seventh in 2007-08 (27.4). 

So to see them at 33.3, which is their highest since 1993-94 when they allowed 35.1 shots per game. 

"I don't think it's just in our zone, I think it starts even in the offensive zone when we don't have the puck, good forechecks," Schenn said. "If a guy's D are pinching that's responsible for forwards to support them and pick up for them or are in the neutral zone to be tighter and not allow them to have so many odd-man rushes or find delayed man coming in off the rush. When we do get to our own end, we've got to be able to close plays and eliminate plays and get turnovers in our own end and break out the puck. I think right now we're maybe a little bit loose and not tight enough defensively in all three zones and it's allowing them to get a lot of chances. We're relying on our goalies and in the games that Binner's played too, he's making save after big saves and timely saves. We've just got to be able to help him out more."

* Finally, some fans -- The Blues announced on Wednesday that Enterprise Center will open its doors to a limited number of ticketed fans that will boost their attendance at home games from 300 to 1,400.

In addition to invited frontline workers, families and friends of players, hockey staff, team employees and essential personnel, starting with their home game against the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 2.

In cooperation with the City of St. Louis Department of Health, the Blues will increase attendance by 1,100 for the next set of home games. 

The success of the team’s implementation of local and NHL safety protocols during the initial homestands this season led to the approval to increase capacity. Future growth in the number of fans at Enterprise Center will be determined by ongoing evaluation of the safety measures and continued improvement in key local COVID-19 metrics.

"Our team looks forward to bringing fans back to enjoy Blues hockey with us in person when we return home," Blues president of business operations and CEO Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. "Through the partnership with local health officials and the continued compliance of safety protocols by all members of our team and staff, this marks an important step in responsibly returning our dedicated fans to Enterprise Center. We can’t wait to see and hear more of them back in the stands."

On the Plaza Level of Enterprise Center, fans will be seated in pods of two to four seats. Fans will also be seated on the PNC Premier Level, which includes suites, the Bommarito Automotive Group Lounge and Bull and Bear by Stifel.

Tickets for the Feb. 2-7 games will be made available via presale to season ticket holders beginning Thursday. Access to the presale will be determined by season ticket holder tenure, contract length and plan type. Season ticket holders will not have access to the same seats held in previous seasons.

The Blues will also continue to show their appreciation for local frontline workers by inviting healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers and others to each home game.

"It's awesome," Schenn said. "Fourteen hundred might feel like 10,000 in there. It's going to be nice to get more fans in there, just bring some energy in the building even though it's still going to be a pretty empty stadium, just people watching you, people cheering you on. Hopefully that number keeps on growing and as vaccines roll out here, it's trying to keep people safe and as healthy as much as possible, but at the same time, we all know how big fans are for sports and we're happy to see that number rise."

To provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all guests, Enterprise Center has implemented operational changes and health and safety protocols. The most important changes to the game day experience include: all tickets are mobile-only; face coverings must be worn at all times; bags are no longer permitted; and Enterprise Center is now a cash-free environment. The complete list of new guidelines and procedures can be found at

"It's great," Berube said. "I think it's great for the fans. It's great for us too. We want to have fans in the stands. Definitely makes the game a lot better. Fans make the game, in my opinion. It's nice that that's going to happen."

* Top line starting to produce -- It took some time, but the line of Ryan O'Reilly, Perron and Zach Sanford is starting to produce offensively.

Perron had just one assist in four games to start the season but has picked it up with three goals and two assists the past three games, and O'Reilly, who also started with one assist in four games, has a goal and three assists the past three games.

"It's interesting. We've played so much together in the last couple of years that you would think that it would just come the first game, but I think sometimes you don't put yourselves in the right areas of the ice to be successful, and for us, it's like we're not the fastest line, but when we know when we're predictable to each other in our system and then our compete level takes over and we make little plays," Perron said. "I think you saw that (Tuesday) with many opportunities, not just the goal that we scored there. It's nice. 

"I think we started building a little there the last of games and obviously (Tuesday) that was probably our best one as a line and we're looking forward to keep building."

The Blues need this line to produce to help the fast start by the line of Jordan Kyrou (three goals, four assists), Schenn (four goals, two assists) and Jaden Schwartz (two goals, four assists). 

"I thought DP and Sanny played a great game," O'Reilly said. "They did some great things. We forechecked well. We didn't give up a ton defensively, I thought we made some great plays coming out of there. I think I have to support them better. I've got a lot more on my hands right now and things I'm doing are kind of killing our momentum. You can see it's nice to kind of at least get the puck and create more. DP with obviously some unbelievable plays."

Berube feels Blues being targeted

Coach, players don't deny they need to clean penalties up, also feel they're 
getting short end of stick on calls; angry bigger discipline wasn't taken on Stone

There's no denying the Blues have taken their fair share of penalties this season, and legit ones too.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan O'Reilly (90) and the Blues feel they're being wrongfully targeted
by officials regarding penalties. They're third in penalty minutes.

Coach Craig Berube has been insistent in the early part of the season that the Blues have to stay out of the box, plain and simple. Berube's defended the officials, and he's called out his players for a lack of discipline.

Not on Tuesday.

Berube had enough.

After a 5-4 win against Alex Pietrangelo and the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena, a game in which the Blues (4-2-1) couldn't hold a 4-2 lead midway through the third period, there was a call on defenseman Marco Scandella that was called for cross checking with 9:45 remaining in the game that put the Blues down two men for 39 seconds.

Of course, Vegas (5-1-1) scored on the ensuing power play and made it a 4-3 game, eventually tying the game 4-4 late on a Max Pacioretty goal with 3:25 remaining before the Blues won it on Brayden Schenn's shootout goal.

But the Scandella call was questionable when viewed live, and Berube made it known that he didn't like it.

There was also a call on Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez, for a slash, that many felt didn't warrant a whistle in the second period.

"Scandella's penalty is a joke, like I don't get it," Berube said, not caring at the time whether he'll get fined by the league for criticism of officials. "You keep going about your business, but come on, we're playing hockey here. Like let us play hockey. I'm just tired of it, going to the box six, seven times a night. Let us play hockey. It's a tough game out there, things happen, but you've got to let them go."

The Blues were forced to kill six more opponent power-plays on Tuesday. They're tied for third in the NHL with 81 penalty minutes on the season in seven games, an average of 11:34 per game, which is fourth in the NHL.

That kind of reputation garners extra eyes, but even the mild-mannered Ryan O'Reilly, for the second straight game, didn't like a call but also knows the team has to be better at not turning a particular game into a special teams' contest., and with the Blues being at or neat the bottom of the league in both penalty kill and power-play, they're better suited to playing 5-on-5 hockey.

"That 5-on-3 call I think was very soft. We all thought that," O'Reilly said. "That was a tough time in the game to give them that. I guess if you want to complain about that, you (also) have to stay out of the box and again make it easier on 'Binner.' With the amount of pressure they come (with), they force us to take penalties. We just have to support each other better and sometimes whether it's just hold on and not forcing plays to kind of maybe just being smarter and hold onto pucks, wait for support to get there. I think in doing that, I think it will limit their grade 'A' chances which forces us to take penalties. Something to clean up for sure."

Added forward David Perron, who scored twice: "I think the Scandy penalty, he outmuscled the guy. He's a very strong guy I just think it was ... I don't know if odd call is the right word for me to use, but I think it was not necessarily a penalty if we didn't get all the power plays before and there's a couple we throw over the glass. Mine personally, we've done that stretch break like 10-15 times last year and not even close to doing that once. That one got away from me and obviously I was a little embarrassed, but that is why it happens."

And what's frustrating the Blues even more is what was not identified with a more stiffer punishment when Vegas captain Mark Stone was called for roughing on the Blues' Tyler Bozak, at 13:29 of the second when he stopped in his tracks near the center ice red line and leveled Bozak in his chin with a shoulder hit that knocked the Blues veteran forward out the rest of the game.

Stone was issued a minor for roughing, but that's it.

"Terrible call," Berube said. "We're getting penalized six penalties a night. I don't see it, I really don't and I'm tired of it."

Bozak will get looked at on Wednesday but could be dealing with a concussion like teammate Robert Bortuzzo, who was level from behind by Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin and hasn't played since, missing the past four games. No punishment was issued with that either.
So in stepped Justin Faulk to take matters into his own hands after Stone wouldn't accept Schenn's challenge. Faulk scraped with the Vegas captain in an effort to let him know such a play is unacceptable.

"Yeah, we didn't like the hit," Faulk said. "I think there's multiple guys within our room that would have done it. It's just some things you do for teammates and move on. I just stepped up and tried to do that."

Don't think for a second Faulk's teammates didn't take notice either.

"He's like the Swiss Army knife right now. He's doing everything," O'Reilly said of Faulk. "D-zone, he's making great plays, being physical. Offensively he's creating a ton, he steps up with a big fight there for Bozie. The guy is doing everything. It's very impressive. He's a big reason why we're winning some of thee hockey games the way he's playing. Collectively through the lineup, we have to follow his lead and help him out more."

The Blues are 31st in the NHL in difference between taken penalties (39) as opposed to penalties drawn (26), which is minus-13.

There were penalties taken Tuesday (Schenn's tripping while on the power play in the second, Colton Parayko and David Perron each getting called for delay of game) that warranted sitting in the box, but players seem to get a bigger appreciation for the job they do if officials allowed them to play more.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Forward Jordan Kyrou (25) scores for the Blues past former teammate
Alex Pietrangelo (7) and Robin Lehner in a 5-4 shootout win Tuesday. 

"I sure hope we don't have to live with it for a while. We talk about it every day," Faulk said. "Guys know that we've got to be better at that, and it's not all the penalties are bad. It's just there are some stupid ones that we need to clean up. We have no issue killing off hard penalties, whether it's roughing or whatever, something along those lines that's a hard play that had to be made. Just the little things, all the stick penalties, slashing, hooking, all that stuff needs to get out of our game. It's making it real tough on us. We're a 5-on-5 team. We think we can handle guys and other teams in the offensive zone and play hard against them and really make it tough for them. Every time we take a penalty, we kill our momentum. It just needs to stop and we definitely need to clean that up to be better."

* NOTES -- Defenseman Vince Dunn was a healthy scratch Tuesday following a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in which Dunn was a minus-2 and responsible for three goals against.
"He's got to clean up the mistakes, that's the bottom line, and that's it, that's all I'm going to say about that," Berube said. "He knows. We talked. I love Dunner, but you've got to clean the mistakes up."

If it should have served as a wake-up call to Dunn's teammates, consider it served loud and clear.

"We are a very deep team and we have guys that are working hard and getting in the lineup as well," O'Reilly said. "Obviously I think it's just sending a message. He's a fantastic player. I think he'll respond the right way like he has done before. It is what it is. I know he's going to work hard and come back and he's going to help us a lot."

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

(1-26-21) Blues-Golden Knights Gameday Lineup

The moment Alex Pietrangelo put pen to paper and officially severed ties with the only franchise he ever knew in his 12-year NHL career, the Vegas Golden Knights defenseman -- jeez, that still feels weird writing -- knew this day would come.

Pietrangelo will have his day tonight when he faces his former Blues teammates for the first time when Vegas (5-1-0) hosts St. Louis (3-2-1) at T-Mobile Arena (8 p.m.; FS-MW, ESPN 101.1-FM).

The moment Pietrangelo, 30, became an unrestricted free agent Oct. 9 and thus ended any chance of the Blues being the only team that could sign him to an eight-year contract at 11 p.m. (CT) the previous night, the chance grew that the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft would not wear the Bluenote anymore.

Now he's moved on after signing a seven-year, $61.6 million contract with Vegas that included what the Blues would not give him, a no-movement clause, and thus a chapter was turned, and it's time to get the formalities out of the way.

"Me and my wife were talking about it. I think if it was my first game here, maybe it would be a little bit different," Pietrangelo said Monday. "We've played, what, six games now. We kind of passed that point. 

"I knew this day would come eventually. I've been joking that I guess if you're going to do it, do it eight times in one year and get past it. I feel comfortable about it and ready to kind of get it over with so we can continue to move forward."

Under normal circumstances, the Blues and Golden Knights would be in different divisions and play three times in one season, but in the unique 2020-21 Covid-19 season, they happen to be playing eight times, so there will be not only familiarity but some determination to knock the other down a notch or two when given the chance.

"We get to see him on the ice in different colors, but it's good to see him again," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said of his former teammate. "He's been a good friend for five years in St. Louis and still is. Looking forward to seeing him and should be a good battle against him.

"We talk here and there, every once in a while just checking in, seeing how things are going."
Pietrangelo was captain of the Blues the past four years but passed the torch to Ryan O'Reilly, who said there was a vibe around the team once free agency officially began that the marriage would likely end.

"You hear the rumors and such," O'Reilly said. "I think I knew something was coming. We were hoping obviously he would sign with us, but it's part of the game. It happened. We knew Vegas was a frontrunner. It is what it is, business side of it.. It's going to be weird seeing him out there in a different uniform, but it is what it is."

Also under normal circumstances, and nothing is yet normal, Pietrangelo would have hosted most, if not all, of his former Blues teammates Monday night at his plush, new $6 million, 8,321-square-foot home in the suburb of Summerlin but contact these days away from the ice for players is out of the question. 

"It would have been nice to check out," O'Reilly said with a smile.

So instead, when the puck drops tonight, the formalities will be dispensed and game faces put on with different objectives.

"It's not going to be different for me as a coach, but I'm sure on his side of things, he's coming back, playing against St. Louis," Blues coach Craig Berube said of his former No. 1 defenseman. "He's been with one organization until now and won a Stanley Cup with St. Louis, so it will be a little different for him and for our guys too. That's the way it goes though. That's part of the league and after the first couple of shifts, that's all going to go away."
Pietrangelo ranks high in Blues history in a number of categories, including fifth in games played (758), 109 goals scored (27th overall, second behind Al MacInnis' 127 among defensemen), third in assists (341) and ninth in points (450).

And most importantly, he met his wife Jayne and all his children (four) were born in St. Louis.

"As you all know, wife's from St. Louis, so it's a whole different ballgame for us," Pietrangelo said. "I've had some family come visit us, which is nice. I think once you get the kids in school and kind of get a routine, you start feeling more comfortable. It's been a couple months now, so we feel comfortable where we're at as a family and ready to just play (tonight) so I can move on."

- - -

The Blues open a four-game trip tonight against Vegas twice and Anaheim twice and they come on the heels of a discouraging 6-3 home loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, which dropped the Blues to 0-2-1 in the second games of these two-game series against opponents (the Blues are 3-0-0 in openers).

"We're all disappointed having the chance to get four points from LA there the second game," Berube said. "My opinion, we let that game get away from us for no reason. We're in complete control, it's 1-0 ... there's always things you can do better in a game, but you're not always going to play your best hockey, but you have to keep games in front of you. We didn't do that. We let two goals up at the end of the first period and the first period put us on our heels for the second period, we weren't very good and then in the third period, played a great period. We tried to make a comeback but it's just got to be more consistency in everybody's play."

Vegas has jumped out to a strong start, including starting 4-0-0 on home ice, but it seems when the Blues are backed into a corner and going up against a formidable opponent, they find a way to come out swinging and earn a result. Look no further back than the 2019 Cup run and many instances last season when things were wobbly on the rails.

"I think so. They're a very good team over there, we're a very good team," Parayko said. "It should be a good game tonight obviously. It's going to be on us to bring our 'A' game and make sure we're ready for this challenge. Coming into Vegas, we know it's not an easy place to play either with or without fans. We're looking forward to it, but it's on us to make sure we can control what we can control coming and being prepared, having the right mindset and just working hard, so that's on us and we're going to have to bring it tonight."

"Yeah, normally it does," Berube said. "I think we've played Vegas over the last couple of years pretty well and there's been some pretty exciting games. It'll be a tough game, they're a real good hockey team obviously. They know how to win, veteran team. We're going to have to play a real solid hockey game here tonight and we're really going to have to do a good job checking. They're fast and they create a lot of things off the rush, so it's going to be a tough game."

After the loss Sunday, Berube spoke of the attitude of the team and when asked why it slips, he said that's a better question for the players.

"I think he's absolutely right," O'Reilly said. "It's not an X's and O's thing or us necessarily executing. It's just the overall effort and commitment. It's playing to our identity and we're too sporadic with it and not consistent with it. You can see it when that happens, bounces don't go our way and we overwork and it's frustrating, but the good news is I think as a group we all know that. We know that in order to get out of this, we have to come together and collectively work our way out of this. We're excited, we know we're a good team, it's just being consistent with our identity."

- - -

Berube wouldn't make mention of any potential lineup changes tonight other than to say that Parayko and Zach Sanford have replaced Vince Dunn and Robert Thomas on the second power play unit.

The Blues' power play is 30th in the league at 5.6 percent (1-for-18).

"Yeah, just trying to find something here," Berube said. "We'll see what happens, but that's basically it."

Parayko started the season on that unit and will quarterback it tonight.

"We're just going to be looking to get pucks towards the net, just make it tough on the opposing penalty kill," Parayko said. "... That's the goal is to get a power-play goal and help the team out, but if that's not the case, just try and gain some momentum. That's the secon-best thing is get some momentum and hopefully we can get another goal or carry some momentum into later on in the game or the next period during that power play."

As for Dunn, who had a tough game Sunday, was a minus-2 and will be scratched tonight, Berube said, "He just has to keep the game in front of him more than anything, the 1-on-1 plays, just some puck plays where the turnovers turn into goals or real good chance against. Just manage the game a little bit better that way and lineup changes, I'm not sure yet. I'll make a decision in warmup."

- - -

The Blues recalled center Jacob de la Rose from the taxi squad and recalled defenseman Scott Perunovich from Utica of the American Hockey League to the taxi squad.

Also, defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, out the past four games with an upper-body injury, is on the trip but no indication of when he could resume skating or even playing.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup (will be updated during warmups):

Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou

Mike Hoffman-Robert Thomas-Tyler Bozak

Kyle Clifford-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist

Torey Krug-Colton Parayko

Marco Scandella-Justin Faulk

Niko Mikkola-Carl Gunnarsson

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Ville Husso is the backup.

Healthy scratches include Vince Dunn,Sammy Blais and Jacob de la RoseVladimir Tarasenko (shoulder) and Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) are out.

- - -

The Golden Knights' lineup:

Max Pacioretty-Chandler Stephenson-Mark Stone 

Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith

Alex Tuch-Nicolas Roy-Keegan Kolesar

William Carrier-Tomas Nosek-Ryan Reaves 

Brayden McNabb-Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez-Shea Theodore
Nic Hague-Zach Whitecloud 

Robin Lehner is expected to start in goal; Marc-Andre Fleury would be the backup.

The Golden Knights have no healthy scratches nor report any injuries.