Friday, February 25, 2022

(2-25-22) Sabres-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- It will be Ville Husso tonight for the Blues, in light of Jordan Binnington's strong start in Philadelphia on Monday.

That's been the plan for the Blues (30-14-6) even in light of Binnington's 25-save effort in a 4-1 win against the Flyers. Husso was the planned starter today at 7 p.m. (BSMW, ESPN 101.1-FM) against the Sabres (16-28-8).

"That was the plan here to get him back in the net tonight against Buffalo," Blues coach Craig Berube said of Husso. "We always think about things, but again, we got a plan before the game in Philadelphia even. Again, we're sticking to the plan."

Forwards Brandon Saad and Brayden Schenn are good to go tonight after each player missed practice on Thursday, Saad because he was feeling sick (non-COVID related) and Schenn due to the birth of his first child, a son named Huxley Michael Schenn who arrived Wednesday.

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The Blues return for one quick game at home before heading back on the road for four.

They spent three games in Canada before playing in Philadelphia, come home for this one, then head back out for a road trip to Chicago, then off the New York to face the Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils.

"It's kind of a different situation with the schedule, being on the road there for nine (days), back home, we get one game at home and then we're back out for four in a row on the road," Berube said. "It is what it is. Guys spend a little time with their families and get this game tomorrow and then we move on.

"It's tricky too coming off a long road trip sometimes that game at home. We discussed it (Thursday) morning. I wanted to push them a little bit in practice (Thursday) with skating and work just to get them ready to go."

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Taking seven of eight points on the recent road trip was a sign of some strong play, something the Blues want to keep going here. What has Berube liked about the recent strong of games?

"I think our play in our own end has been pretty solid," he said. "I think that we're protecting the middle of the ice pretty well right now in our own end and doing a real good job of that. When I think of it overall, I think we are doing a good job of limiting the odd-man rushes and playing them the proper way. That's probably the one thing that stands out to me from the road trip."

Forwards have been more consistent in back-checking and clogging the middle of the ice helping the defensemen, but as Berube said, "Also the 'D' recognizing the situation, staying inside the dots when they need to be, when you can pressure the puck because we have people back in place to help out. There are some reads that have to be made and I think we're doing a fairly good job of it. The d-zone coverage part, we've been stressing it since the break about protecting the middle of the ice more, letting 1-on-1's happen. When our pressure guy's physical and he's killing plays, our support guy gets in there and we get the puck and we go. But if not, it's about protecting the middle of the ice and letting that guy do his job."

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Forward Jordan Kyrou had himself a nice 1-on-1 conversation with Berube post-practice on Thursday. 

Those normally involve a coach and player talking about one's recent play and things the player needs to hone in on.

For Kyrou, it's puck decisions and puck awareness. He's had a rash of turnovers, particularly in the offensive zone, including one against the Flyers that led to the tying goal in the third period. After the gaffe, Kyrou played just one shift the remaining 11-plus minutes in the game and played a season-low 11:51.

"We're here to help him and he has to help himself, but we're here to help him and work with him," Berube said. "There's going to be times that I'm tough on him and there's going to be times that I'm a father figure to him. I want to help him as much as I can because he's a great player and he's going to help our team. I think since the All-Star Game, he's been a little off for sure and I think he'll find his way.

"I think he's just got to start using his speed again. I think the situations he's in, a lot of them, if he's skating and driving, they wouldn't be turnovers, but he's not skating. He's gaining the line, but he's not skating and people back-check and now he's looking for a play without his feet moving. That's what turns into turnovers. The other side of it is it's just him recognizing that you can't always make a play. There's situations where you've just got to put pucks in and then go to work. Young players go through this process, pretty much all of them. That's part of it all. He'll get out of it, he'll be fine."

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Defenseman Marco Scandella (lower-body injury) skated again on Friday after taking part in a full practice on Thursday but will miss his sixth consecutive game tonight.

"He's feeling pretty good now so I think going forward, he's going to be in good shape here," Berube said. "He'll be a player soon."

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* Since Jan. 1, Husso is 9-1-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage and one shutout.

* Despite some recent puck struggles, Kyrou has 20 points his past 19 games (nine goals, 11 assists).

* Schenn has 10 points his past eight games (six goals, four assists).

* Forward Vladimir Tarasenko has six points (four goals, two assists) his past four games and 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) his past 17 games.

* Sabres center Tage Thompson, the 26th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Blues who was part of the trade for Ryan O'Reilly, leads the Sabres in points (38) and is tied for  the team lead in goals (20).

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou

Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-Oskar Sundqvist

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Jake Walman-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches include Logan Brown and Dakota Joshua. Marco Scandella (lower body) remains out.

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The Sabres' projected lineup:

Jeff Skinner-Tage Thompson-Alex Tuch

Rasmus Asplund-Dylan Cozens-Kyle Okposo 

Peyton Krebs-Casey Mittelstadt-Victor Olofsson 

Anders Bjork-Cody Eakin-John Hayden

Rasmus Dahlin-Casey Fitzgerald

Mattias Samuelsson-Jacob Bryson 

Robert Hagg-Mark Pysyk

Dustin Tokarski will start in goal; Craig Anderson will be the backup. 

The healthy scratch will be Mark Jankowski. Henri Jokiharju (lower body), Jack Quinn (lower body), Will Butcher (lower body), Vinnie Hinostroza (lower body), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Colin Miller (upper body), Malcolm Subban (upper body) and Drake Caggiula (upper body) are all out.

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