Monday, March 8, 2021

(3-8-21) Blues-Sharks Gameday Lineup

The Blues will finally get the chance to come home.

Closing out a six-game trip to California with a win would make it an almost perfect trip and close it out at 5-0-1. The only blemish, albeit the Blues (14-8-3) picked up a point, was the 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in which they blew a 3-0 lead.

They will close out the trip where they started it, at SAP Center against the San Jose Sharks (8-11-3) at 8 p.m. (FS-MW, ESPN 101.1-FM).

The Blues opened up the trip with a marathon 7-6 win in this building Feb. 27.

The focus of that game, and something the Blues want to be wary of tonight, if the net front presence the Sharks like to bring and the Blues will need to be cognizant of that very aspect in their own end.

"This team, San Jose, they come hard on the forecheck, they're a tenacious team," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "They really do a good job of getting pucks and people to the net, so I think overall defensively, we've got to be ready for the tenacity of their forecheck and be ready for guys going to the net hard. We've got to be solid around our net tonight. We've got to be strong around our net and really do a good job there."

"... Sometimes goals go in. I think it's just a part of it at times. You can always fix things and do things better, which we always try to do and try to correct. I'm not going to really look into (the 7-6 game) too much." 

The players understand six goals allowed won't cut it on most nights, if at all, and feel net play around their goal tonight will be crucial, especially the forwards.

"As a group and as a center, just put yourself in a good position," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "Bring in between your guys and the net, making sure he can't get that inside positioning on you. Just forcing them and keeping them to the outside. It's a tough job, but when it comes down to it, it comes down to being smart and putting in the work. If you take that extra stride to get to the inside and dictate it that way, it makes for a tough defense. That's how we want to play."

The Blues have gone 4-0-1 on the trip, earning nine of a possible 10 points, and getting 11 of 12 would be such a rewarding finish with three off days ahead before a back-to-back home set against Vegas at home Friday and Saturday.

"It is really important, we can't think ahead here heading home," Berube said. "We've got to be focused. Points are crucial. We all know that (with) how tight the league is in our division. We've got to finish it off.

"We talked to our guys this morning about being prepared. Every shift counts tonight. Just put it all on the line. There's nothing to save it for. We've got a number of days off after this before we play again. They've got to leave it out on the ice tonight. We've got to have a solid effort from every person in the lineup tonight."

There won't be any looking ahead by the players, even though a three-day break between games this time of the schedule is nice.

"We're not done yet though," O'Reilly said. "Our focus is one more game, find a way to get two more points. Last time in here, we weren't great defensively."

- - -

One of the storylines to come from the Blues' last visit here is the way goalie Jordan Binnington departed.

When he was pulled in the second period following San Jose's fourth goal, he didn't go quietly.
But Ville Husso is expected to get the nod tonight, thus ruining any kind of storyline moving forward.

Husso is 4-0-0 in his past four appearances (three starts), including getting the win in relief here Feb. 27 when he stopped 19 of 21 shots, and picking up three wins on the trip.

"I think he's been doing great," O'Reilly said. "You just see the more and more he plays, the more confidence he's getting. We're confident in him. He's finding ways to make huge saves at huge times for us. It's nice to see. It can always be tough at times being a new goalie and getting your legs, but you can see he's got them now and he's doing a great job."

- - -

Center Oskar Sundqvist will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury, so the Blues will use the same lineup they used Saturday in Los Angeles, including Zach Sanford at center on the third line.

"I thought they had a real solid game (Saturday)," Berube said of Sanford, Sammy Blais and Nathan Walker. "They created a lot of opportunities, they got a goal (from Walker), they worked hard, really played good defense. Overall, I thought their game was really good."

- - -

* Left wing Kyle Clifford will play in his 700th NHL game tonight.

* Right wing David Perron has a season-high 6-game point streak (four goals, four assists, which is tied for the longest active streak in the league with Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov. In his last nine games, Perron has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) and leads the Blues with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists).

* Two nights after returning in his first regular-season game in nearly 17 months and playing 16:25, Vladimir Tarasenko is back in the lineup tonight.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jordan Kyrou-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko

Mike Hoffman-Brayden Schenn-David Perron

Nathan Walker-Zach Sanford-Sammy Blais 

Kyle Clifford-Dakota Joshua-Mackenzie MacEachern 

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk 

Vince Dunn-Marco Scandella 

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

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

The Blues report no healthy scratches. Colton Parayko (upper body), Jaden Schwartz (upper body), Robert Thomas (thumb), Tyler Bozak (upper body), Oskar Sundqvist (undisclosed), Ivan Barbashev (ankle), Carl Gunnarsson (knee) and Jacob de la Rose (lower body) are all out.

- - -

The Sharks' projected lineup:

Evander Kane-Logan Couture-Kevin Labanc

Rudolfs Balcers-Dylan Gambrell-Ryan Donato

Noah Gregor-Patrick Marleau-John Leonard 

Matt Nieto-Joel Kellman-Kurtis Gabriel

Mario Ferraro-Brent Burns

Erik Karlsson-Nikolai Knyzhov

Radim Simek-Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal; Martin Jones will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Alexander True, Fredrik Claesson and Joachim Blichfeld. Timo Meier (lower body) is a game-time decision. Tomas Hertl and Marcus Sorensen are in COVID-19 protocol.

No comments:

Post a Comment