Monday, April 26, 2021

(4-26-21) Avalanche-Blues Gameday Lineup

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- The Blues and Colorado Avalanche will wrap up their three-game series at Enterprise Center today (6 p.m.; BSMW-Plus, ESPN 101.1-FM) with a lot of banged up bodies to boot.

For the Blues (20-19-6), they will have a less-experienced defensive crew on the ice tonight with the absences of Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn, who each sustained an upper-body injury in the 5-3 win over the Avalanche (31-10-4) here on Saturday.

Parayko sustained left the game after the Blues tied the game 2-2 on a Ryan O'Reilly goal at 12:40 of the period and did not return. Dunn left the game with 7:32 remaining in the third.

Parayko, who missed 21 games earlier this season with an upper-body injury, returned to play the past eight games.

"I don't know how long they're out for," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "It's kind of up in the air on that yet."

The Blues are expected to go with 11 forwards and seven defenseman, which they did on Saturday, and will insert Niko Mikkola in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past 10 games, and Steven Santini was recalled from the taxi squad and is expected to make his Blues debut Monday.

"Other guys got to come in and play well," Berube said. "I don't really think it's anything more than that. The guys that are in there, keep doing their job. That's the way it goes."

Santini had 116 games of NHL experience under his belt, all but two with the New Jersey Devils, and played most recently last season with the Nashville Predators.

"A journeyman defenseman. He plays hard, he's a physical guy, pretty direct player," Berube said of Santini, who has five goals and 16 assists in the NHL. "He's going to bang around and he's going to make the first pass, extremely hard worker, pretty dialed in person. He's intense. That's about all I really know about him."

As for Mikkola, he last played March 28 against Anaheim.

"He just had to keep working on his game," Berube said. "He's a hard worker out there, working on his passing and his hands more than anything, I think. He'll come in and give us minutes, he'll be aggressive like he normally is and he's going to give you effort. He's just got to keep the passing and the puck play simple."

Also, defenseman Torey Krug, who missed the morning skate after having a maintenance day Friday before playing Saturday, will be a game-time decision tonight. 

"I am expecting him, but we'll see in warm-up," Berube said.

The expectation of going 11 forwards and seven defensemen will depend on Krug's availability, but forward Zach Sanford was long on the ice working with the extras.

"I think it's a good possibility that we'll do the same thing tonight," Berube said. "I thought it worked out pretty well. You get some of your top guys a few more minutes here and there, which is good. Overall, I thought the D did what they needed to do. I thought 'Borts' added that physical presence in the game. It's a penalty on (Gabriel) Landeskog, but I liked the physicality part of it, I thought he did a good job. We'll see how it goes here tonight in warm-up."

The Blues have enough capable forwards in the lineup that can play center and feel they're equipped to handle that situation when called upon.

"On our team, we've got a lot of capable guys that can play center," said Robert Thomas, who returned after missing four games with a shoulder injury. "If they do 11 and seven, there's a lot of guys that can step up in the middle. We're definitely capable. ... I thought (on Saturday) as a forward group, we were playing pretty well, created a lot of chances and that kind of thing. I think our momentum just started to build throughout the game. I think we handled it really well."

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Colorado, already without No. 1 goalie Philipp Grubauer, top goal-scorer Mikko Rantanen and reliable third-line scorer Joonas Donskoi because of COVID-19 protocol, will be without forward Brandon Saad, who was injured in the game Saturday and will miss 2-4 weeks with a lower-body injury.

And Colorado will start Jonas Johansson in goal tonight after Devan Dubnyk played the past two games for the Avalanche.

"We've got to obviously create scoring chances, have a shooting mentality if any goalie's in there," Berube said. "I don't think that changes a whole lot. We got to get inside and shoot pucks and get to the net. We've got to have a shooting mentality."

- - -

The Blues, who trail the Arizona Coyotes by one point for fourth in the West Division with three games in hand, need to keep pace and build off Saturday's important win.

How do they do that?

"We've got to follow obviously what 'O'Ry' ... his performance was incredible," Blues forward David Perron said of O'Reilly, who had three goals and an assist in the game. "He really put the team in his back along with 'Binner.' I think we need more guys to play inspired hockey like that. It was unreal to get the two points and I think we can build off that result and keep going.

"It meant two points last game. Also 'Binner' when we were down two, it could have been 3-4 pretty easily with some of the plays they made, some of the mistakes that maybe we made. 'O'Ry' was relentless, wouldn't stop putting everything on the line and obviously it inspires more guys to want to do the same thing. That's why he's the captain obviously. We know he's a leader on the ice. It was fun to watch for sure."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup (will be confirmed during pre-game the warmup):

Brayden Schenn-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Tyler Bozak-Vladimir Tarasenko 

Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Jordan Kyrou

Sammy Blais-Mike Hoffman

Marco Scandella-Justin Faulk

Torey Krug-Jake Walman

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

Steven Santini

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Ville Husso will be the backup. Healthy scratches include Kyle Clifford, Zach Sanford and Mackenzie MacEachern. Colton Parayko (upper body) and Vince Dunn (upper body) are out with injuries sustained Saturday.

- - -

The Avalanche's projected lineup:

Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Andre Burakovsky

Carl Soderberg-Tyson Jost-Valeri Nichushkin

J.T. Compher-Nazem Kadri-Martin Kaut

Liam O'Brien-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Kiefer Sherwood

Devon Toews-Samuel Girard

Ryan Graves-Cale Makar

Patrik Nemeth-Conor Timmins 

Jonas Johansson will start in goal; Devan Dubnyk will be the backup. Healthy scratch includes Philipp Grubauer. Brandon Saad (lower body), Matt Calvert (upper body), Logan O'Connor (lower body) and Jacob MacDonald (lower body) are out. Joonas Donskoi and Mikko Rantanen remain in COVID-19 protocol.

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