Tuesday, December 7, 2021

(12-7-21) Panthers-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The hits keep coming for the Blues (12-8-4), who have a repeat matchup against the Florida Panthers, who come in with the best record in the league (17-4-3), today at 7 p.m. (BSMW, ESPN 101.1-FM).

Already down six players for various reasons, including injury and COVID-19 protocol, center Robert Thomas will not play tonight with a lower-body injury and is listed as day to day.

Thomas leads the Blues with 20 assists and has 22 points in 24 games this season for a team already short on numbers.

"I think all-around play. He's been one of our more consistent players all year," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He's shown he's playing both ends of the ice real well. Obviously his puck play is incredible, whether it's distributing it to people or transporting it up the ice. His face-offs have been excellent. Penalty kill and power play, he's an all-situations guy."

The Blues are already missing David Perron (upper body), James Neal (upper body) and Klim Kostin (upper body) due to injury and Tyler Bozak, Jordan Binnington and Justin Faulk each out in COVID-19 protocol.

Being up against the salary cap ceiling, the Blues will have to play a skater short tonight and will go with 10 forwards and seven defensemen.

"It's just hurdles you've got to get over," Berube said. "I think our players are in a real good spot. They seem good, they seem excited for tonight. I think that the way I was trying to present it to them is we've got to play a real smart game tonight for sure being shorthanded like that, don't put yourself in tough spots and things like that. Our guys seem good though. They seem excited. We'll see what happens.

"As a coach, you look at it as a challenge for sure and you present that challenge to your team and just talk about how we should approach this game. It's the way it is and you've got to fight your way through this stuff." 

The Blues will have two full lines at forward and two lines with two skaters on each, likely needing some help from a defenseman or two that will have to jump up and fill shifts at forward, a unique situation to say the least and makes you wonder how, not if, they will be able to field a roster.

"To be honest, I don't really know. We'll see when we come out there, but it's tough," defenseman Torey Krug said. "These are things we've got to deal with throughout the season. A lot of teams face a lot of situations and obviously this is one that I've never faced personally in my career. I'm sure other guys haven't, but it is what it is. Can't really do anything about it. Time to go play.

"... We've had a very good approach to this whole thing. Understanding, realizing that things out of our control are going to happen throughout the year and probably in waves like they have been recently. We know it's happening and it is what it is and we just move on. We just prepare for the next day to worry about our own jobs. We've been very good with our approach realizing that playing shorthanded, you've got to be a little smarter, realize that you've got to take care of the puck, limit the turnovers and these are all things you want to do anyway, but it definitely magnifies it when you have less and less guys."

What it does is gives guys more ice time. Some feel it's a need, some perhaps don't, especially those fighting through injury that may worsen, which is likely the case for Thomas.

"I think for anyone, it's almost easier if you're playing more minutes," Krug said. "You don't have to think or worry about things shift to shift. You just jump over the boards and you just play hockey. From an individual standpoint, it might be something I need right now to get things moving. I'm excited. Any time the coach taps your shoulder to go over the boards and you get to compete for the team. It's a great opportunity to get your game on track and you don't have to worry or think about things. I'm very excited for it."

- - -

Tonight will see Ville Husso get the call in goal and he will be opposed by Spencer Knight.
On Saturday in Florida's 4-3 shootout win, the Panthers pumped 51 shots on goal and 89 attempts Husso's way (he was brilliant in defeat with 48 saves).

"I think we can play more of a territorial game, probably a little faster too," Krug said. "I think they obviously hemmed us in some moments and they were throwing a lot of things at the net. Blocking shots and then quick transition to force them to play defense. Then once you do get it down there, hold onto pucks and make it harder for them to break out pucks and their D to join. There's definitely a lot more we can do better. I think we're looking forward to another good challenge."

The Panthers held an 89-35 advantage in shot attempts in the game, and with the Blues playing a man short tonight, it will allow them to recall a skater on Wednesday in an emergency situation from Springfield. But as for tonight, playing simple is of the utmost importance.

Also, Florida is boosted by the return of Aleksander Barkov, who missed the past eight games  with a knee injury.

"You don't want to put yourself in bad situations, managing the puck properly is really important tonight, not extending your shifts," Berube said. "I can go through a list of things. You want to play simple and smart. We always talk about simplicity I think, but tonight's even more important."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-Pavel Buchnevich 

Jordan Kyrou-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev-Logan Brown-Oskar Sundqvist

Dakota Joshua

Marco Scandella-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Niko Mikkola

Scott Perunovich-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Walman

Ville Husso will start in goal; Charlie Lindgren will be the backup.

The Blues report no healthy scratches. David Perron (upper body), Robert Thomas (lower body), James Neal (upper body) and Klim Kostin (upper body) are out with injuries. Tyler Bozak, Jordan Binnington and Justin Faulk are all in COVID-19 protocol.

- - -

The Panthers' projected lineup:

Carter Verhaeghe-Aleksander Barkov-Maxim Mamin 

Jonathan Huberdeau-Sam Bennett-Sam Reinhart

Frank Vatrano-Anton Lundell-Owen Tippett

Ryan Lomberg-Eetu Luostarinen-Patric Hornqvist

MacKenzie Weegar-Aaron Ekblad

Gustav Forsling-Radko Gudas

Lucas Carlsson-Brandon Montour

Spencer Knight will start in goal; Sergei Bobrovsky will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Joe Thornton and Olli Juolevi. Mason Marchment (upper body), Markus Nutivaara (lower body) and Anthony Duclair (lower body) are out with injuries.

No comments:

Post a Comment