Wednesday, March 3, 2021

(3-3-21) Blues-Ducks Gameday Lineup

It's been a tumultuous and rewarding week, if that makes any sense, for Blues defenseman Marco Scandella.

As far as the tumultuous goes, his face isn't digging being smacked with an errant puck last week against the Los Angeles Kings, and then taking an errant stick to the mouth from a Rickard Rakell follow through on a shot that resulted in losing his front teeth -- albeit fake teeth -- in the first period. 

And didn't even miss a shift as a result.

And Scandella probably won't miss a shift either tonight when the Blues (12-8-2) look to make it three in a row when they face the Anaheim Ducks (6-11-5) at 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN, ESPN 101.1-FM).

But Scandella was hit with that errant puck against the Kings in the third period and did not return, getting stitched up on the upper lip area but was back on the ice the next day for practice. And then when Rakell's stick him him in the mouth on the follow through of a shot attempt, it sent Scandella into the corner holding his mouth again, this time missing a few of the pearly whites.

"He's an absolute warrior," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "The guy can't get a break right now. Every game he's getting a stick or getting hit in the face with something. It's tough, but it's impressive. He comes right back. Still you can see his spirit, his energy on the bench, he's up and he's talking. He's just a warrior. He's a perfect example of what we want to be as a team playing with that grit and playing through everything and doing whatever can do to help the team win. It's impressive."

Scandella has been an important cog in these past two wins, 7-6 at San Jose on Saturday and 5-4 against the Ducks on Monday. The reward is he's logged his highest minutes of the season in those games (25:28 against the Sharks and 23:19 against the Ducks) and has added all four points (two goals, two assists).

"He's earned them," Blues coach Craig Berube said of the minutes for Scandella. "Scandy's got to be a real solid defender for us, first and foremost. He's got to do that job, be hard to play against and physical. We want all our D to get up the ice when possible. He's a good skater, has got a good shot. We want our D up in the play. He's doing a good job right now and we need him to do a good job right now obviously with a depleted lineup. He's relied on a lot more.

"A lot of these times when you're getting involved out there, like Scandy is right now, you're in people's faces and and you're checking hard and you're being intense and getting up the ice and doing those things, sometimes things happen. It's unfortunate, but you do tend to get nicked up more. ... He's been around, Scandy. He's a tough guy. That's not going to stop him from doing what he has to do."

Scandella had the first multigoal game of his NHL career against the Sharks, and with the Blues' blue line missing Colton Parayko on it, offense from the defense is an added bonus.

They were Scandella's first goals with the Blues since he joined them last year.

"I want to make more of an effort joining in the rush, being more a part of things, getting some more shots on net, so that's me personally," Scandella said. "I feel we've been working as a group finding different strategies in the offensive zone finding offense."

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The Blues did not hold a morning skate today at Honda Center, instead electing to hold a full practice on Tuesday.

They will play four of the next six days and are in the midst of five games in eight days to close out this six-game west swing.

"We went out (Tuesday). We just decided we were going to skate quick (Tuesday) and then (today), it's an earlier game, 6:30 (local time) so we'll stay at the hotel and do everything there, meetings and all that stuff and they can get a team stretch and then extra guys will go out on the ice," Berube said. "Rest is going to be a huge thing and I think we've been monitoring it pretty good and doing a good job. Our players have been really good about telling us how they're feeling and what's going on. You've got to go to your leaders and talk to them and get feedback from them. We've just got to make sure we stay on top of it because the schedule's only getting tougher."

It's something the coaching staff and leaders have been good about as far as communication is concerned. 

"Chief does a great job at communicating with us and getting a feel for how guys are," O'Reilly said. "... Sometimes it's good to have the rest. I think we have a good group that's tight. We talk, we decide what's going to be best and with the season the way it is, the rest is so important. You have to be able to manage it well and I think we have done a solid job with that."

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Vladimir Tarasenko won't make his return to the lineup tonight, Berube said Tuesday, but the right winger is still slated to make his season debut at some point on this trip, either on Los Angeles Friday or Saturday, or next Monday at San Jose.

Berube has indicated that Tarasenko would need to get contact as a final test to see where he's at in regards to his surgically-repaired left shoulder, but, "it doesn't need to be a team practice to get contact," Berube said. "He's been getting pushed every day with contact. He's feeling good. I think when he's ready to go, he's ready to go. Even without team practices, we've got guys that are on him and doing the battle work with him and things like that."

When he returns, it will be the first regular-season game for Tarasenko since injuring the shoulder for a second time Oct. 24, 2019 against the Kings.

"It's a matter of him saying he's ready," Berube said. "He's not going to get more ready than he is now. He needs to play games. He's done everything. He's worked out hard, he's trained, he's in good shape. He's practiced hard, he's done all that stuff, but it's about playing games now."

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The Blues have a division-leading eight wins on the season (8-2-0) and will be looking for their eighth straight win at Honda Center tonight.

The road seems to be a better place for the Blues this season, who are just 4-6-2 on home ice.

"I don't know," defenseman Justin Faulk said when asked why the home/road difference. "There's probably not much you can pinpoint this year. In other years on the road, you can kind of point to something whether it be a nice team dinner or nice soda after a game or something like that. I don't know, I think we just go into buildings and try and make it tough on teams. It's different than what teams are probably trying to make us do at home and we've been struggling at home. It's just trying to find a way to make it tough and not let a team get comfortable on their home rink. It's not like of them have fans they can build off of, so it's a little bit more dead. I don't know what the league looks like home versus road, but I know our team's comfortable being on the road. It doesn't bother us. We like it and in normal years, it's a way for our team to bond and we've always done a pretty good job of that. Even now it's very limited on what you can do, but still trying to enjoy our time around each other and try and create as much chemistry as we can on the road with what we're limited to.

"Obviously winning helps ease a lot of things. Third period wasn't what we wanted to be last (game) and we know that. Guys know we need to be better in that situation. We were happy with the first two periods, but most importantly getting that win was huge and boys can hopefully start to string some together."

That "soda" Faulk is speaking of is not your ordinary bottle of Pepsi or Coke, but rather the barley and hops kind, and he was asked what his favorite "soda" was.

Being a Minnesota native, it's likely not an Anheuser-Busch product.

"Well I don't drink the real soda," he said. "I can't say because those are bad words, I think, on TV. It's not the No. 1 soda in St. Louis, so I probably shouldn't say it." 

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-Jordan Kyrou

Nathan Walker-Brayden Schenn-David Perron

Sammy Blais-Oskar Sundqvist-Mike Hoffman

Kyle Clifford-Dakota Joshua-Mackenzie MacEachern

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Vince Dunn-Marco Scandella

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Ville Husso will be the backup. The healthy scratch is Jake Walman. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Jaden Schwartz (upper body), Colton Parayko (upper body), Tyler Bozak (upper body), Ivan Barbashev (ankle), Robert Thomas (thumb) and Jacob de la Rose (lower body) are all out.

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The Ducks' projected lineup:

Sonny Milano-Ryan Getzlaf-Max Jones

Trevor Zegras-Adam Henrique-Jakob Silfverberg

Max Comtois-Isac Lundestrom-Rickard Rakell

Derek Grant-Sam Steel-Nicolas Deslauriers

Josh Mahura-Kevin Shattenkirk

Cam Fowler-Jani Hakanpaa

Jacob Larsson-Ben Hutton

John Gibson will start in goal; Ryan Miller will be the backup. Healthy scratches include Troy Terry and Danton Heinen. Josh Manson (oblique), Carter Rowney (lower body) and Hampus Lindholm (undisclosed) are out.

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