Monday, January 17, 2022

(1-17-22) Predators-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The band is back together again. 


The Blues (22-11-5) got a shot of good news on Sunday when coach Craig Berube announced forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn, along with defenseman Colton Parayko would return to the lineup today when the Blues conclude a five-game homestand against the Nashville Predators (24-12-3) at 7 p.m. (BSMW, ESPN 101.1-FM) after each cleared COVID-19 protocol.

After Monday's morning skate, it was confirmed that forward David Perron cleared COVID protocol earlier in the morning will also return, and forward Logan Brown (non-COVID illness) would also return to the lineup.

"He cleared this morning, so he'll be a player for us this morning too, which is good," Berube said of Perron, who missed the past two games. "They're only out five days, right? It's a quicker return, which is good for all the teams, especially with guys with no symptoms and things like that. When you don't have any symptoms and you feel ready to play, it's a good thing you get them back a lot quicker."

Brown also missed two games; he skated Sunday during an optional and is deemed good to go.

"He's fine, he's going to play, he's ready to go," Berube said.

That leaves forward Pavel Buchnevich as the lone skater that remains sidelined. He went on COVID protocol on Friday, which means if he tests out accordingly and doesn't have symptoms, he can resume practicing Wednesday.

"It's exciting obviously getting some guys back here," Parayko said. "Kind of see our team form up a little more. I feel like we've had a lot of injuries and COVID kind of throughout the season, but obviously we're not the only team. It's nice when you can look down the lineup and see what we were expecting to see at the beginning of the year and coming together. Just on us now to perform now and get some points."

"The whole league's dealing with it realistically," Schenn said. "I think that's why it's important to have lots of depth. We've been able to compete with the top teams in the league just because we are so deep everywhere on our team. With COVID and everything and guys being out for five days at a time or 10 days at a time, you're going to need lots of bodies and guys that have came in have done a great job."

Parayko and Schenn said each felt five quarantining. 

"Just a stuffy nose, that's it," Schenn said. 

"Feeling good. Luckily, I had not one symptom the whole time," Parayko said. "Feeling good and just excited to get back."

Needless  to say, each would rather do without so much testing, being on par with many of their Blues teammates that have been out.

"I think at some time, the NHL has to stop testing," Schenn said. "The PA, we have to find a way. ... It just seems a little ridiculous at times when you have 15,000-18,000 people watching  the game and no no one else is testing. Obviously it's a very serious thing and stuff like that, but kind of the way it's trending a little bit right now, it seems to, in our locker room at least, guys are getting colds and stuff like that, feel fine, good enough to play. Hopefully at some point down the stretch, they can come up with something where guys aren't forced to miss 5-10 days with a cold.

"Testing every single day, guys are going to get a cold or whatever else is going around here. That's kind of what's going through our locker room right now. There's no really way of avoiding when you test every single day."

"I don't know where to really go with this," Parayko said. "There's so many ways to look at it from a hockey standpoint. Personally, I had no symptoms and stuff and I felt great the whole time. It's difficult that way. Some guys are getting hit a little bit harder. Some guys get hit differently. Obviously you've got to look at it from a health standpoint, but at the same time, it is what it is. Obviously we wish we would test less and I wish I didn't miss games, but every team's got to do it. We've just got to move forward and do what we can."

Schenn has played in just 22 of 38 games this season dealing with an upper-body injury on two separate occasions and just wants to get back on track. He's hopeful this is it.

"I sure hope so. It's been one of those years," Schenn said. "I've been pretty fortunate and lucky to stay healthy in my career and stuff. It's one of those years where you feel like you can't get in a rhythm and now down the stretch here the last 40 games or whatever we have here left, I'm looking forward to being a contributing factor to this team and helping the team win hockey games."

- - -

Tonight, the Blues will put Chris Pronger's No. 44 into the rafters during a pregame ceremony that starts at 6 p.m.

Pronger will join Al MacInnis (No. 2), Bob Gassoff (No. 3), Bob Plager (No. 5), Barclay Plager (No. 8), Brian Sutter (No. 11), Brett Hull (No. 16) and Bernie Federko (No. 24) as players to have their numbers retired by the Blues.

Pronger was originally acquired by the Blues in a trade by then GM/coach Mike Keenan that sent fan-favorite Brendan Shanahan to the Hartford Whalers on July 27, 1995. During his nine seasons with the Blues, Pronger played in 598 regular-season games and totaled 356 points (84 goals, 272 assists) and 931 penalty minutes. Pronger was a four-time All-Star as a Blue, finished in the Top 5 of the Norris Trophy voting five times and in 2017, was named one of the "100 Greatest Players" by the NHL.

"You look at some of those numbers that are in the rafters, not just our building but every building," Parayko said. "Just to be put up there and even on it that way is something special and you're doing something right. It's not hard to see how good of a player he was. You hear about how he was as a person too. Great person and teammate. With all that stuff being combined, it's no surprise he's out there. We're excited as an organization to celebrate that and watch 44 go up in the rafters."

Schenn played briefly with Pronger in Philadelphia with the Flyers.

"I played with him I don't know how many games before he had that unfortunate eye injury there," Schenn said. "I think I was on the ice, I'm not sure, but I feel like I was when it happened. For me, he was really good to me as a young guy. Obviously him as a player and the demeanor he had around the locker room was obviously very demanding, tough on his teammates, demanded a lot out of his teammates. Ultimately that made guys better. That's why he's won everything he's had. He's won individual trophies and team awards and championships and Olympics and everything that comes with it. Definitely very well deserving putting his number up here in the rafters here in St. Louis, a guy that just me being a kid and stuff like that, used to watch him and just how tough and mean he was and hard top play against and a guy that can control the game from the back end. Not many guys have been able to do that throughout their career and he was definitely one of them. Very deserving that he goes up in the rafters with the rest of them.

"Nights like this are big in the organization. People fly in for them, alumni are here and ultimately, you just want to put on a good show for the fans and the guys that have worn the jersey before you. We're going to have a lot of those guys in the building tonight and you want to come out, make them proud and have a good game tonight."

Berube coached Pronger in Philadelphia and played against him for a number of years and recalls so many good things about him.

"I played against him and I coached him in Philly. He was a great player, one of the best defensemen that's played the game in my opinion," Berube said. "He's a mean guy, great, great vision and passer of the puck, control a game back there singlehandedly in my opinion. There's not many guys that can do that. He's one that could do it. I enjoyed coaching him. I don't know if I enjoyed playing against him that much because every time I went to him, I got a cross-check in the face. But anyways, as a coach, I learned a lot coaching just from his side of things and how he thought about the game. It was pretty funny, I was running the forwards and every time he'd have a shift, he'd come back, he'd yell my name, 'Chief, get down here!' I'd go down to the D, I had to go by the coaches and go down to the D and he'd say, 'Tell that guy up front this and that and that.' It was pretty funny. I said, 'Prongs, I'm watching the game.' 'I'm just making sure you're on it.' He's a demanding guy by everybody. He wants the best out of the coaches and the best out of all his teammates because he expects the best out of himself, and that's the way he played the game."

Needless to say, the two never fought.

"Why would he fight me? That's a bad trade-off," Berube said. "He had other guys to fight me like Kelly Chase and 'Twister'."

- - -

Ville Husso will get the nod tonight in goal for the Blues. 

Husso is 7-0-0 with a 1.38 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in his past eight home starts.

"We've been rotating, like I said before, like I said yesterday," Berube said. "We've been rotating, so this is the rotation."

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Ivan Barbashev-Ryan O'Reilly-Brayden Schenn

Jordan Kyrou-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Brandon Saad-Logan Brown-David Perron

Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-Oskar Sundqvist 

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch will be Jake Walman. Scott Perunovich (undisclosed) is out. Pavel Buchnevich is in COVID-19 protocol.

- - -

The Predators' projected lineup:

Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Luke Kunin

Eeli Tolvanen-Mikael Granlund-Matt Duchene

Yakov Trenin-Colton Sissons-Tanner Jeannot

Michael McCarron-Nick Cousins-Philip Tomasino

Roman Josi-Dante Fabbro

Alexandre Carrier-Matt Benning

Mark Borowiecki-Philippe Myers 

Juuse Saros is projected to start in goal; David Rittich would be the backup. 

The healthy scratch is expected to be Ben Harpur. The Predators report no injuries, although Fabbro departed Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss against Boston with an upper-body injury. Mattias Ekholm is in COVID protocol.

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