Saturday, December 11, 2021

(12-11-21) Canadiens-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- With back to back home games coming up against Montreal and Anaheim beginning with the Canadiens (6-19-3) today at 6 p.m. (BSMW, ESPN 101.1-FM), the Blues went at it hard on Friday and did not hold a morning skate this morning nor will they hold one tomorrow.

The Blues (14-8-4), winners of six in a row on home ice, will look to improve on that mark tonight.

"Very important," Blues coach Craig Berube classified it after a 6-2 win against Detroit on Thursday. "We've got to keep it going. We're over with this game. 'Walks' can enjoy his three goals and then tomorrow it's back to work. That's it. Get ready for Montreal."

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The Blues will get ready for the Canadiens, 0-4-1 in their past five games, and a couple of former faces.

Goalie Jake Allen will get the start for Montreal tonight.

Allen, who spent seven seasons with the Blues before being traded to the Canadiens along with a 2022 seventh-round pick on Sept. 2, 2020 for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2021 seventh-round pick, was a Stanley Cup champion with the Blues in 2019, pairing up with Jordan Binnington at the time.

Allen, a 2008 second-round pick by the Blues in 2008, was 148-94-26 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in his seven seasons in St. Louis.

"Thinking back to it, he was such a massive piece here and a big part of this team for many years," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said after practice Friday. "It's going to be weird playing against him. Obviously I hope we can light him up tomorrow, but he's obviously a very special teammate to have and had the opportunity to play with. It's going to be kind of awkward to play against him."

What's so coincidental of this is that the Canadiens will be facing a former goalie of their own.

Charlie Lindgren, 2-0-0 with the Blues the past two games, will likely get the nod for the Blues again tonight; he was 10-12-2 with a 3.00 GAA and .907 save percentage over five seasons with Montreal before signing a two-way contract last summer with the Blues.

And Lindgren would love nothing more than to face his former mates tonight.

"Umm, yeah, I think it definitely means something to me," he said after the win Thursday. "Obviously, I'm going to treat it like any other game, but, yeah, it means something."

Also in the house is Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman, who returns here for the first time since he signed as a free agent in the off-season with the Canadiens.

Hoffman spent last year's shortened season with the Blues and had 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 52 games and one goal in four playoff games.

"It was a shortened season and obviously a COVID year so I wasn't able to do too much around here or have much experience around the city," Hoffman told reporters this morning after the morning skate. "I enjoyed it while it lasted."

Former Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson remains out for the Canadiens for undisclosed reasons. His father, Bob Edmundson, has been battling lung cancer.

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The Blues, with nine regulars out of the lineup, six with injuries and three more under COVID-19 protocol, will have to make do with another lineup littered with Springfield call-ups again tonight.

The most recent is Matthew Peca, recalled under emergency conditions on Friday after the Blues played two straight games with 17 skaters, or one short.

Peca, signed in the off-season, had 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in 19 games with the Thunderbirds and will join recent call-ups Logan Brown, Dakota Joshua, Nathan Walker and Lindgren in the lineup. Defenseman Scott Perunovich was the first of the bunch to get the call-up.

"He had a good camp; he was real noticeable," Berube said of Peca. "He's got great speed. he's played a number of games in the NHL; he's played 70-something games in the NHL and I think he's put up 20-some points. He has some experience in the NHL, but he's a pretty solid two-way player and he's one of the better players down there in Springfield. He killed penalties, he can put pressure on the other teams. He's a lot like Walker."

Peca has 78 games of NHL experience over five seasons, including 44 with the Canadiens; he has six goals and 14 assists.

"We've got very good depth and with the guys coming up with energy and the way they're playing is fantastic coming in doing a great job," O'Reilly said. "I think we're relying on each other too. We know this is a tough stretch. We're missing some very, very key pieces, but we're sticking with it and we're relying on each other. We've been able to win some games. My no means is it perfect, but we're working the right way, we're working for each other and it's been good. We're going to keep building.

"The energy these guys have provided trickles down our lineup and helps us with just that excitement of coming up and being called up and getting an opportunity of just playing that that energy and excitement and you see the plays and being aggressive and going at it, it helps us veteran guys give us jump and see that we've got to match that, we've got to go with it. It's very impressive the guys that have been called up and what they've brought to the table. It's been a big part of why we've been able to squeak out some wins here."

Walker scored his first NHL hat trick Thursday, Joshua had two assists, Lindgren made 29 saves to get the win, Joshua had two assists and Brown has three points in five games since his recall. Perunovich has five assists in 12 games.

"It's done a lot to be honest," forward Ivan Barbashev said of their contributions. "They bring a lot of energy for the team, especially the last game. Walker had a hat trick and he played a helluva game. Those guys are great, they're ready to go and it's a really good thing for us."

Tyler Bozak was the first eligible to come out of protocol but wasn't on the ice Friday; he did skate Saturday morning. Binnington and Justin Faulk are eligible to come off COVID protocol Monday. David Perron, who has skated twice this past week, appears to be the closest of the injured skaters to return, which could be any day now. James Neal and Klim Kostin, on long-term injured reserve, could return next week. Ville Husso (lower-body injury) and Jake Walman (upper-body injury) will miss at least a week after being placed on injured reserve Friday. Robert Thomas (lower body) remains day to day.

Berube said there's a chance Bozak could play Sunday against the Ducks. 

"The guys we're missing are such key pieces to this team and such good hockey players when they're back in the lineup, it helps us so much," O'Reilly said. "I think we're all excited. When we look back to the beginning of the year when we were all healthy and you see the depth that we have and the players that we have and how dangerous we can be. I'm hoping we can get healthy and get guys back. It only makes us a better team."

For the first time in three games, the Blues will be able to roll 12 forwards and six defensemen.

"I think it's been a while, but it'll be nice to be able to roll just the four lines and get everybody involved here," Berube said. "We'll need that tonight here against Montreal. We'll need some energy, so I think Peca will add energy to our lineup, which will be important."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-Jordan Kyrou 

Pavel Buchnevich-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Tarasenko 

Nathan Walker-Brayden Schenn-Oskar Sundqvist

Dakota Joshua-Logan Brown-Matthew Peca

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Marco Scandella-Torey Krug

Scott Perunovich-Robert Bortuzzo

Charlie Lindgren will start in goal; Jon Gillies would be the backup. 

The Blues have no healthy scratches. David Perron (upper body), Robert Thomas (lower body), James Neal (upper body), Klim Kostin (upper body), Ville Husso (lower body) and Jake Walman (upper body) are out. Tyler Bozak is out of COVID-19 protocol and has started to skate. Jordan Binnington and Justin Faulk remain in COVID-19 protocol.

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The Canadiens' projected lineup:

Mike Hoffman-Nick Suzuki-Artturi Lehkonen 

Jonathan Drouin-Ryan Poehling-Joel Armia 

Michael Pezzetta-Mathieu Perreault-Cole Caufield

Cedric Paquette-Laurent Dauphin-Jesse Ylonen  

Ben Chiarot-David Savard

Alexander Romanov-Chris Wideman

Brett Kulak-Kale Clague

Jake Allen will start in goal; Sam Montembeault will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch will be Corey Schueneman. Christian Dvorak (lower body), Tyler Toffoli (upper body), Jeff Petry (upper body), Josh Anderson (upper body), Joel Edmundson (undisclosed) and Jake Evans (undisclosed) are out. Brendan Gallagher and Sami Niku are in COVID-19 protocol.

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