Friday, October 1, 2021

(10-1-21) Blues-Blackhawks Preseason Gameday Lineup

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Zack Bolduc will make his preseason debut for the Blues (2-1-0) against the Chicago Blackhawks (0-0-1) at United Center today at 7:30 p.m.

Bolduc, who is a center and 17th pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, missed the Traverse City Prospects Tournament with a lower-body injury he sustained during Canada's World Junior training camp this past summer and he's worked his way back into camp and available to skate on a daily basis.

Bolduc, 18, will skate on a line with Kyle Clifford and Logan Brown, who the Blues acquired last Saturday along with a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick from the Ottawa Senators for forward Zach Sanford.

"I'm really excited," Bolduc said. "It's my first game. I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can and have fun and learn through that process.

"I'll be nervous, but I'll use that at my advantage, have fun, compete hard and just keep it simple for the first one. Right now, I'm feeling good honestly. I'm feeling 100 percent so I'm ready to play the game tonight."

Bolduc is expected to be sent back to his junior team, Oceanic Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, at some point during camp, but Blues coach Craig Berube wanted to see the 18-year-old in an NHL game before doing so.

"Use his skill for sure, he's a skilled player," Berube said. "Watching him out there in practice, he's quick on his feet, he's on his toes and he's got a good shot, obviously good puck skill. Just use his ability and go play the game. We're all looking forward to seeing him here tonight and seeing what he can do."

Bolduc said no matter what happens from here on out, as long as he's here in St. Louis, he will soak up everything he's learned and take it back with him to Rimouski.

"It's incredible, just being with the pros here, talk with them and learn, see how they train off ice, how they work on the ice," Bolduc said. "For me, it's really an honor to be here. I just want to learn here and make myself better."

Bolduc, listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, has made himself better and the players around him are noticing.

"I think he looks great," Blues center Robert Thomas said. "I think he's a lot faster than I thought, he's got a great shot. I'm excited to see him tonight. He's an awesome young player, awesome guy, so I'm really excited."

Needless to say, there will be a stream of the game tonight in Bolduc's hometown of Trois-Rivières, province of Quebec, where his parents, family and friends will be watching.

"When I knew that I was going to play the game tonight, I told them, I text them and I called them just making sure they knew it," Bolduc said. "They're going to watch the game back home for sure."

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Thomas, who came into his Zoom call Friday sporting a brand new cap designed by Nathan Walker, who along with his wife are setting up a newly-formed clothing company, will get the chance to skate with Vladimir Tarasenko in another preseason game tonight.

That duo played in a 6-2 win in the preseason opener against the Minnesota Wild last Saturday along with Brandon Saad and looked good.

"It's been great so far," Thomas said. "I thought we were really good in the first game together with Saader on the left, now we've got Jake (Neighbours) on the left (tonight). It will be a good test for us, but I'm excited. Everyone knows he can shoot the puck, he can skate and he's strong on the puck. Just those little things. I've just got to find them."

"I see Tommer, he's a real good passer and Vladi's a shooter, so that combination for me works real well," Berube said. "Right now, Tommer's really skating well and moving well. He's got the puck a lot. Vladi's good at finding open ice and spots to score goals. I think that could be a good combination."

Another veteran paid Berube will look at tonight is Brayden Schenn and Pavel Buchnevich, who will also skate in their second game together. They will get Ivan Barbashev on the left wing.

"They're both good-sized guys," Berube said. "They get on top of people on the forecheck. Barbashev's with them tonight, but that line should be a good line to play against anybody, do a good job defensively and also be able to produce."

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Oskar Sundqvist, rehabbing from a torn ACL, practiced on Friday after missing Thursday's skates with what Berube called a maintenance day.

"He's been playing, he's been on the ice a lot skating and working," Berube said. "We've just got to manage it. Ray Barile's doing a great job of managing that and we just kept him off the ice yesterday.

"He is progressing, he's got a ways to go still, but he's doing a good job. He's working hard and I think that he's doing a good job of working with them, trying to get him in game shape and ready to play a game at some point."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jake Neighbours-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev-Brayden Schenn-Pavel Buchnevich

Kyle Clifford-Zack Bolduc-Logan Brown

Alexei Toropchenko-Tanner Kaspick-Nathan Todd

Jake Walman-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Scott Perunovich

Griffin Luce-Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Colten Ellis will be the backup.

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The Blackhawks' projected lineup:

Alex DeBrincat-Tyler Johnson-Patrick Kane

Lukas Reichel-Jonathan Toews-Brandon Hagel

Alex Nylander-Dylan Strome-Ryan Carpenter

Jakub Pour-Reese Johnson-Dmitri Osipov

Jake McCabe-Seth Jones

Calvin de Haan-Caleb Jones

Nolan Allan-Ian Mitchell

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal; Collin Delia will be the backup.

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