Saturday, May 1, 2021

(5-1-21) Blues-Wild Gameday Lineup

The Blues (23-19-6) will be a bit more shorthanded on Saturday in search of a season-high five-game winning streak.

Already playing without Vince Dunn (upper-body injury) and Vladimir Tarasenko (lower-body injury), defenseman Torey Krug will also miss today against the Minnesota Wild (31-14-4) with an upper-body injury of his own.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (BSMW-Plus, ESPN 101.1-FM).

Colton Parayko, who missed Wednesday's 4-3 win against the Wild, his second straight game missed, returned to action in Thursday's 5-4 overtime win over the Wild, but this will put the Blues in a bit of a bind.

Tarasenko took part in the morning skate but will miss a second straight game and remains day to day, and Krug, who has played in all 48 games this season (one goal, 28 assists), will miss his first of the season.

"Yeah, it's tough. I thought both of them were playing well and contributing on the power play and obviously playing good hockey all around," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "We got guys that can come in, fill in and do the job. That's part of it all and we've had injuries all years so it's really no different."

Krug had missed a number of the previous morning skates, and is day to day himself. Berube indicated that the previous missed skates do not have anything to do with this particular injury.

"Not the same thing," Berube said, "but he's going to be fine."

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Fresh off helping Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League win the franchise's first-ever Gagarin Cup, Blues 2017 first-round pick Klim Kostin will return to St. Louis on Tuesday and will be assigned to the taxi squad.

The Blues assigned Kostin, the 31st pick in the draft, to the KHL in September due to the uncertainty of the 2020-21 season in the NHL due to COVID-19. 

Upon arrival, Kostin will be required to quarantine before joining the team.

"First, he's got to come back and get some practices in and we'll see how he looks and go from there," Berube said. 'I can't really give you an answer on that not seeing him. We've got to see him in practices."

In 24 playoff games, Kostin registered nine points (five goals, four assists) and a plus-5 rating. He also posted 99 hits in the postseason.

"Obviously he played really well over there and they won the championship and he was a big part of it," Berube said. "He's the type of guy (that) we really like his size and his strength, just his heavy play. He's definitely a guy that I think can help our hockey team. But again, we've got to get him here and get him acclimated and get him going and we'll see from there."

Kostin has played in four regular-season games with the Blues and has one goal against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 23, 2019. In three seasons with the American Hockey League's San Antonio Rampage, Kostin had 82 points (29 goals and 53 assists) in 181 games.

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Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo came into Thursday's game against the Wild with 25 penalty minutes.

He departed it with 47.

Bortuzzo kept himself busy off the ice more so than on it once he was done squaring off in separate fights, the second time he's been in two fights in one game.

He fought Jordan Greenway at 14:32 of the first period after Greenway drove him hard into the Blues' goal, then tussled with Marcus Foligno at 6:29 of the second period coming to the aid of teammate Jordan Kyrou after Foligno's hard hit on Kyrou, to which Bortuzzo received a major for fighting, two minutes for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.

"We expect games to be fairly intense here on in and those things seem to happen when the intensity of the games goes up," Bortuzzo said. "... It was definitely a unique game for myself."
Bortuzzo played just 4:53 and had nine shifts in the game but got the appreciation of Berube, known for his fisticuffs during his NHL career.

"'Borts' has done a real good job lately with that," Berube said. "He's brought a lot of intensity to our game and physicality to our game lately, which is important. He's a great team guy, we all know that stepping in for Jordan Kyrou and taking on a tough guy. The guy's tough so we've got a lot of guys that take care of themselves and their teammates out on the ice, which is important."

Bortuzzo fought New Jersey's Jordin Tootoo twice in a game as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 30, 2014.

"I wouldn't say I was pumped to get into it with that guy," Bortuzzo said.

- - -

The Wild, trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season, are expected to go with Kappo Kahkonen in goal after Cam Talbot played the past two games against the Blues and allowed nine goals on 53 shots.

If Blues fans remember, Kahkonen was the sacrificial lamb of staying in goal for the entirety of the Blues' 9-1 thrashing of the Wild on April 9, a game in which Kahkonen allowed those nine goals on 38 shots.

But Minnesota will be riding high after rallying for a point Thursday, coming back from a 3-1 third-period deficit before falling 5-4 in overtime on a Ryan O'Reilly goal.

"They've played the same way all year and I don't expect anything different tonight," Berube said. "They're going to come at us hard on the forecheck like they always do and it's going to be tight, tough hockey. They're physical. They possess the puck pretty well in the offensive zone. They make you work for everything. It's going to be a hard-working game again tonight."

"That's a good hockey team with good structure," Bortuzzo said. "A proud team who's been playing really well at home all year. They're going to be coming out hard. ... Two similarly built teams in terms of structure and how they want to play. There's not going to be a ton of ice out there I'm assuming. It's going to be a good challenge for us here."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Brayden Schenn-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Tyler Bozak-Sammy Blais

Jordan Kyrou-Robert Thomas-Mike Hoffman

Kyle Clifford-Ivan Barbashev-Zach Sanford

Marco Scandella-Justin Faulk

Jake Walman-Colton Parayko

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Ville Husso will be the backup. Healthy scratches include Mackenzie MacEachern and Steven Santini. Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body), Torey Krug (upper body) and Vince Dunn (upper body) are out tonight. Carl Gunnarsson (knee) and Oskar Sundqvist (knee) are out for the season.

- - -

The Wild's projected lineup:

Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno

Kirill Kaprizov-Ryan Hartman-Mats Zuccarello

Kevin Fiala-Victor Rask-Marcus Johansson

Zach Parise-Nico Sturm-Nick Bonino

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy-Ian Cole

Kaapo Kahkonen will start in goal; Cam Talbot will be the backup. Healthy scratches include Nick Bjugstad and Brad Hunt. The Wild report no injuries.

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