Saturday, January 29, 2022

(1-29-22) Jets-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan O'Reilly doesn't see himself stopping any time soon.

So when the Blues' center and captain plays in his 900th NHL regular-season game this afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets (2 p.m.; BSMW, ESPN 101.1-FM), if things fall into place and there are no injuries to deal with, 1,000 games will come next season.

But first thing's first, and that's 900, of which 427 was played with the Colorado Avalanche, 224 with the Buffalo Sabres and today will be his 249th game with the Blues.

"It's something I don't really think about," O'Reilly said. "I feel like I have a lot more that I want to do and many years ahead of me. It's not something I like to think about very much, but yeah, it's crazy. I still feel young and still feel I have a lot to learn. It's crazy. I can't remember that first game and the steps that you go through in just trying to make the team and then trying to establish yourself and take another step and then another step. It's just funny, it never stops. You never stop trying to improve and get better. I think I've been fortunate to be healthy for the most part. There's a lot more I want to do and I just want to keep going.

"... I feel full of energy and hungry to do more in the game and contribute. I think the older you get, the better you have to take care of your body and be smarter with a lot of ways you train and such. Over the last couple years, it's something we started to figure out, but it's been a process. Everything's a process and it's fun though, it's a lot of fun."

O'Reilly, 30, has 643 points (229 goals, 414 assists), of which 221 points (74 goals, 147 assists) have come with St. Louis. 

"It's special. I'm so proud of him obviously," forward and friend David Perron said of O'Reilly. "Every single day, he's our hardest worker out there, he's our leader, he's the guy that sets the tempo in games and in practices to how we need to compete basically, to how we need to play. He just has respect for everyone. He talks to you, old guy, young guy, anyone really in the rink the same way that he does if you meet him in public. I'm very impressed by him. He's a great guy, he deserves everything that he gets. We're happy he's getting 900. He's getting it pretty young now. What is he, 31, 32, 31 probably. I think he's got many, many more games in the league."

Arguably one of the greatest trades in Blues history occurred July 1, 2018 when general manager Doug Armstrong traded forwards Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and 2016 first-round pick Tage Thompson, along with a first round pick in 2019 and a second round pick in 2020 for O'Reilly, who in his first phone call with Armstrong said, "Let's go win a Cup," which he promptly did in 2019.

"Looking back since coming here, first getting here, I think I was so impressed with the team and to be brought into this culture and be a part of it, to see how it's kind of developed and to be able to witness it and to try to be able to contribute to it has been so cool and really helped my career in so many ways," O'Reilly said. "It's something you want to keep growing with and helping this team and organization do more, achieve more. I think we're in a good position this year where we can do something special. It's not going to be easy, but the way we're built, there's so many good pieces that for myself being a part of it, it's something special and it's so much fun being a Blue and the alumni they have here, it's the culture and how much of a hockey town this is now. It's something that I enjoy so much and I want to give so much more too."

O'Reilly has 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 39 games with the Blues this season and has really come on as of late with 10 points (five goals, five assists) his past nine games.

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Perron had one of his best games this season Thursday in a 5-1 win against the Calgary Flames, even though he wasn't on the scoresheet.

Perron, who played 17:27 playing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Brandon Saad and that unit paved the way for the win on Thursday.

Perron was engaging, physical, he protected pucks well and was noticeable all over the ice, finishing with three shots on goal.

"You're always trying to get better as the season goes on," Perron said. "We have a pretty deep team and that changes a lot of stuff obviously. I haven't been as productive as I obviously want recently, but I think there's a way to still bring positive energy and I felt like I had a lot of chances (Thursday) night and they'll come around. I think competing on the puck and getting back to basics in my game, I had fun playing with 'Schenner' and 'Saader' last night."

Since Perron returned from the concussion he sustained in Chicago Nov. 26, he had an assist and scored in the Winter Classic his first two games back. Then COVID-19 protocol came calling and in the eight games since, Perron has just one assist.

But if he plays like he did Thursday, his effectiveness will start to be felt on the scoresheet.

"I think that's it," Perron said. "When you search a little bit, it's almost like you don't have that same feeling when you shoot the puck that you do when you're just confident. I had been on a pretty long streak just feeling good about my game, myself and everything, and the injury happened. I had the groin stuff early in the year, then I get COVID and all that stuff, so it's just getting back to basics, kind of leaving towards this break on a good note, feeling better about my game. No matter what the result is, just trying to bring a lot of positives, bring some momentum to our team. I also felt not only in Calgary but some of the other games, I didn't feel like our forecheck has been as much of a staple as it has been maybe in years past, but part of that is on my shoulders too. I'm a guy that needs  to get in there, play heavy, compete on pucks and protect it. I want to keep doing that.

"You come back from (concussion), you're probably a little tentative at the start. I felt like my first game back against the Oilers, next one was the Winter Classic, I thought they were two good games. I kind of had low energy and I ended up testing positive two days later. I think that's all part of it, but I'm not looking for an excuse, I'm looking for ways to get productive again, get to my game, be an effective player for the team and just be part of the whole solution."

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* Forward Jordan Kyrou has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) his past 12 games.
* Defenseman Justin Faulk has posted a plus or even rating in 18 straight games and is plus-20 overall in that stretch. He now shares second among all defensemen with a plus-27 mark for the season, behind Colorado's Devon Toews (plus-35).

* Forward Ivan Barbashev has 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) over his last 14 games.

* Saad needs one goal to hit 200 in the NHL.

* Forward Pavel Buchnevich has eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games against the Jets. 

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Ivan Barbashev-Ryan O'Reilly-Pavel Buchnevich

Jordan Kyrou-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Brandon Saad-Brayden Schenn-David Perron

Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-Oskar Sundqvist 

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso is projected to start in goal; Jordan Binnington would be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Logan Brown and Jake Walman. Scott Perunovich (undisclosed) remains out.

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The Jets' projected lineup:

Kyle Connor-Pierre-Luc Dubois-Cole Perfetti

Andrew Copp-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler

Paul Stastny-Adam Lowry-Austin Poganski

Kristian Vesalainen-Jansen Harkins-Evgeny Svechnikov

Brenden Dillon-Nate Schmidt

Ville Heinola-Neal Pionk

Declan Chisholm-Johnathan Kovacevic 

Connor Hellebuyck is projected to start in goal; Eric Comrie would be the backup.

Healthy scratches could include Dominic Toninato and Nelson Nogier. Nikolaj Ehlers (knee), Nathan Beaulieu (lower body), Logan Stanley (upper body), Dylan DeMelo (lower body), David Gustafsson (lower body), CJ Suess (upper body) and Dylan Samberg (upper body) are all out. Josh Morrissey is in COVID-19 protocol.

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