Saturday, October 2, 2021

(10-2-21) Blackhawks-Blues Preseason Gameday Lineup

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- The Blues finally made a sizeable roster trim on Saturday morning, sending 10 players to their American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield (Mass.) and three to their junior squads.

Forwards Tanner Kaspick, Mathias Laferriere, Hugh McGing, Matthew Peca, Nolan Stevens, Nathan Todd, Alexei Toropchenko and Keean Washkurak, along with defensemen Griffin Luce and Josh Wesley were assigned to the Thunderbirds.  Forward Zack Bolduc (Quebec, QMJHL), defenseman Tyson Galloway (Calgary, WHL) and goalie Will Cranley (Ottawa, OHL) were all assigned to junior squads.

"I think if you watched the game last night and watched Bolduc, pretty impressive for his first NHL game," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I thought he did a lot of good things. He's got some real good ability. He played with some jam too out there, so it was great to see."

Toropchenko, who led the Blues with five hits in the 6-3 win at Chicago Friday night, and Kaspick both stood out in the game.

"They understand what they've got to do to play up here," Berube said. "Those two guys had good games. They were hard to play against. More than anything, they were physical, on top of the puck, they didn't give the Blackhawks any time. In space, they took it away. They understand their role. They'll go down and play that role in the minors and do a good job and get an opportunity at some point up here."

That leaves 39 players remaining in camp, including left wing Jake Neighbours, who had a goal and two assists in a 6-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday in Chicago and defenseman Scott Perunovich, who also played last night.

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The Blues (3-1-0) and Blackhawks (0-1-1) will tangle once again today at 7 p.m., considered a home game for the Blues, in Independence, Mo., the home of the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL at Cable Dahmer Arena.

The arena, which seats 5,800 people, will be sold out and a smaller venue will provide a terrific atmosphere for teams playing there for the first time.

"We've been to Kansas City before," Berube said. "We haven't played in this rink. We've played in the bigger one there (the former Sprint Center, now called T-Mobile Center). It's always a good turnout there. It seems like they like the game there, hockey in Kansas City. We're looking forward to it, it'll be a fun night."

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If you didn't see the video, here it is ( of Blues goalie Jordan Binnington after last night's game dressing as one of the regular skaters and going out at the end for the postgame handshake. 

Binnington, who played the first two periods and stopped 18 of 20 shots, didn't have his regular goalie gear on, instead dressing in the uniform of Stevens. He got a rise out of his teammates and more noticeably, Berube, who was he was leaving the ice behind the bench, had to do a double-take as to what Binnington was doing.

"I just asked him what he was doing," Berube said. "I didn't have a clue what was going on. I was a little surprised by it, to be honest with you.

"(Goalies) can be a little bit different. Binner's a real good team guy, really likes to do things with the players, obviously funny moments and things like that. He was just trying to be funny and comical and it's good stuff, really good stuff for the team."

It comes days after someone, who has not been identified yet, drew an outline of Berube with a stick and surrounded it by cones as if to recreate a crime scene a day after Berube collided with David Perron at practice and was sent to the ice on his skates.

The Blues have kept things light this training camp, needless to say.

"I think it's good," Berube said. "They're really helping the young guys out. I think they're doing a good job that way. It's been a really good effort by all our veterans in camp. Pretty dialed in right now. I'm pretty pleased with them."

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Defenseman Niko Mikkola will be in the lineup tonight and will be paired with Calle Rosen playing the right side.

Mikkola, battling for one of the remaining spots on defense in camp, has been playing a bigger role on his off-side, playing the right side as a left-handed defenseman.

"A little bit. I'm used to playing on left side of course," Mikkola said. "But I think it's a good thing to practice on both sides. They can put me wherever they want."

Mikkola and Jake Walman are expected to be battling for that sixth-seventh spot on defense.

"(Camp battles have been) good," Mikkola said. "It's been like five players in the practice, and I like that. We have like a couple new things the D-zone and on the PK, so I do work on those. And it's been good so far."

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Some of the more compelling camp battles too are among the bottom pairing forwards, where Dakota Joshua will be battling for a spot.

Joshua will be in the lineup tonight centering the fourth line with Mackenzie MacEachern and Sam Anas.

"My job's pretty simple," Joshua said. "I've just got to focus on myself obviously. That's part of every training camp. People are battling for spots and that's the position I'm in. That's not really something to look at or think about. That's just a known fact and I just try to do what I can and put my best foot forward every day."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Jordan Kyrou-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Brandon Saad-Tyler Bozak-James Neal

Klim Kostin-Nikita Alexandrov-Michael Frolik

Mackenzie MacEachern-Dakota Joshua-Sam Anas

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Calle Rosen

Tyler Tucker-Tommy Cross

Ville Husso will start in goal; Joel Hofer will be the backup.

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The Blackhawks' projected lineup:

FORWARDS: Dominik Kubalik, Adam Gaudette, Henrik Borgstrom, Jujhar Khaira, Dylan Strome, Brett Connolly, Philipp Kurashev, Colton Dach, Reese Johnson, MacKenzie Entwistle, Kirby Dach, Mike Hardman.

DEFENSEMEN: Isaak Phillips, Nolan Allan, Louis Crevier, Wyatt Kalynuk, Riley Stillman, Nicolas Beaudin, Jakub Galvas.

GOALIES: Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia.

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