Friday, December 17, 2021

(12-17-21) Stars-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues need their share of good news considering the COVID-19 outbreaks going on around the league, and they're getting some just in time.

The Blues (16-8-5), who host the Dallas Stars (13-11-2) at 7 p.m. today (ESPN+, HULU, ESPN 101.1-FM) in the second of a home-and-home set after knocking off the Stars 4-1 in Texas on Tuesday, skated an optional on Friday morning and part of it were a quartet of players out with injuries.

Robert Thomas (lower-body injury), Jordan Kyrou (upper body), Ville Husso (lower body) and Jake Walman (upper body) all skated Friday morning for the first time in a team setting. 
Thomas, Husso and Brayden Schenn (upper body who did not skate Friday), each was put on injured reserve, meaning they have to miss a minimum of a week, but Walman and Kyrou are considered day today.

"They're all getting close," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Seeing them out there skating with the team and we'll see tomorrow who's in the practice jersey, but they're all getting better and improving, so it's good to see."

James Neal, on long-term injured reserve with an upper-body injury who has been skating regularly for the better part of a week to two weeks, left practice early on Thursday and Berube said it was a setback.

As for David Perron, also out with an upper-body injury and on LTIR retroactive to Nov. 27, he got in another day of skating Friday after a hard practice on Thursday.

"I thought he had a real good practice yesterday and that was really good to see," Berube said. "He came in today and he felt good. That's another good sign after a pretty good push yesterday in practice. We'll just take it day by day with him. He's trending in the right direction right now and he looks good. If that continues, I think we'll have a player soon."

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Charlie Lindgren will get the start again for the Blues tonight and Jordan Binnington, removed from COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, will serve as the backup.

Binnington indicated on Thursday he's ready to go and get back in net, but with Lindgren playing well (4-0-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average and .956 save percentage) in his three starts (four appearances) and with the coaching staff wanting Binnington to get more work in and his timing back up to par, the choice was pretty simple.

"With the goaltender coming off COVID, a little more time needs to be put into practice for timing purposes and things like that," Berube said. "'Binner' feels good, but from a timing and stuff like that, I think he needed a little more time and (Lindgren's) played well."

David Alexander, the team's goaltending coach, gives his input on these things, and Berube takes his word to heart.

"He has a little bit of input on it for sure," Berube said. "He's out there watching them very closely in practice and working with them, hands on. He knows a lot more than I do about the timing and how they look in practices for sure."

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The Blues assigned forward Klim Kostin to Springfield of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment.

Kostin is also on LTIR with an upper-body injury and is eligible to come off it Sunday, but the Blues feel he needs to get some games in up with the Thunderbirds before getting back here.

"It is important. He’s been out awhile," Berube said. "I think going down and playing two or three games there over the weekend and getting lots of minutes, get his timing back, get his lungs going a little bit playing. I think it’s important that he does that before he steps in and plays with us again."

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The shocking news out of Winnipeg that Paul Maurice resigned as coach of the Jets didn't go unnoticed here.

Berube and Maurice have butted heads among the coaching ranks as divisional opponents and also in that heavyweight first round playoff series in 2019 when the Blues won the Stanley Cup, a series the Blues won in six games.

"Surprising for sure," Berube said of Maurice stepping down. "Paul's been a great coach in this league for a long time. I think he started coaching when he was 35 years old, which is extremely young. He's done a great job as a coach over the years and is great for the league. I'm not sure exactly what the situation is there. I'm sure we'll find out at some point or maybe we won't, who knows, but he'll be missed. I'm not sure exactly what's going on."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-Logan Brown

Pavel Buchnevich-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Tarasenko

Nathan Walker-Tyler Bozak-Oskar Sundqvist

Matthew Peca-Dakota Joshua-Alexei Toropchenko

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo

Charlie Lindgren will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch is expected to be Scott Perunovich. David Perron (upper body), Brayden Schenn (upper body) Robert Thomas (lower body), Jordan Kyrou (upper body), James Neal (upper body), Ville Husso (lower body) and Jake Walman (upper body) are all out.

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The Stars' projected lineup:

Jason Robertson-Roope Hintz--Joe Pavelski

Jacob Peterson-Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin 

Michael Raffl-Radek Faksa-Alexander Radulov

Riley Tufte-Luke Glendening-Denis Gurianov

Ryan Suter-John Klingberg

Esa Lindell-Jani Hakanpaa

Thomas Harley-Joel Hanley

Braden Holtby will start in goal; Jake Oettinger will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches are expected to be Tanner Kero and Andrej Sekera. Miro Heiskanen (illness), Joel Kiviranta (upper body).

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