Thursday, March 24, 2022

(3-24-22) Flyers-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- There's good news, bad news for the Blues, who begin a three-game homestand today at 7 p.m. (ESPN+, HULU, ESPN 101.1-FM) against the reeling Philadelphia Flyers.

Forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas return to the lineup, but defenseman Torey Krug will not play and is listed as week-to-week.

First on Tarasenko and Thomas, they return after not playing Tuesday in a 5-2 win against Washington.

Tarasenko has actually missed the past two games with illness, and Thomas has missed three of the past four games.

"We miss them when they're out of the lineup," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "It's good to have them back."

As for Krug, he was injured towards the late portions of the second period when he took a stick to the left hand by Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen going back to retrieve a puck on the power play. 

It was immediately visible that something was wrong when Krug took his left hand off the stick and dropped it back before immediately going to the bench and off the ice.

"It's really tough," Berube said. "Valuable player for us. It is what it is, but it is a tough loss for sure. That's when it happened. It didn't look like much, but obviously it is."

"He's a good player, big part of our defense," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "I guess we do what we've done all year, next man in. I think obviously down the stretch, we've got a lot of games. There will be a lot of maintenance for us all. But tough to lose Krug obviously, to have a player that brings a lot of value to our team. Tough to see."

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Krug's loss makes the timing of the acquisition of Nick Leddy from the Detroit Red Wings on Monday all that more important.

Leddy, acquired at the trade deadline for Oskar Sundvqvist, Jake Walman and a 2023 second-round pick, had a favorable impression for the Blues paired with Parayko in the win at Washington.

"Obviously like you said, good timing, very good player," Parayko said of Leddy, who will be his partner tonight. "Didn't see a ton of him in the East. We only played him a few times a year when he was with the Islanders. I just knew he was a really good skater, really smart, really efficient and playing with him the first game, you can see that right off the bat. He just skates real well, always in the right position, makes the little plays. Maybe you don't notice, but those are the ones that add up, make like on everyone else out there so much easier. Very nice to see. I'm just excited to play with him.

"Obviously just one game in, but obviously he's been around a long time. He's a really good player, is super smart. I can't imagine it will be any other way."

Leddy played 20:50 in his Blues debut.

"He's an experienced guy that's been around and played in a lot of situations," Berube said. "He'll be able to do the job, I believe. He's played power play a lot in his career. We'll see how it goes. We might have to do some mixing and matching here. We'll see how it works out with the PP. 

"He can really move, got good composure with the puck. The experience, right? He's been around."

Going down the stretch, and if the Blues continue to use Leddy with Parayko, communication will be imperative more than anything.

"That's going to be big, especially with 20 games here now heading into playoffs," Parayko said. "That's just going to be the biggest thing, maybe lose an assignment or you think your partner is going to be somewhere else. Just guys have different tendencies and kind of communicating and letting a guy know where you're going to be or if someone's open. It also helps your teammates out. That's going to be big for us obviously as a pair right now just as we learn each other's tendencies right now. Last game was great.

"You can just tell how calm he is out there too. Just the way he plays. I think he just makes the game easy on himself and the way he skates, if you watch him skate, he's so effortless. It's incredible to watch a player like that skate like that, it's pretty cool. He's been there, won a Stanley Cup, has a lot of games in the league, he's been a part of a lot of winning teams. Whenever you add guys like that, it's always a bonus."

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Nathan Walker, who scored his fifth goal in just 10 games upon his recall from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Monday, will remain in the lineup, and Mackenzie MacEachern will sit out tonight.

Walker seems to provide a boost every time he's in the lineup for the Blues, who are 7-2-1 when he plays.

"I like to think I do the little things right, whether it's stopping on pucks, going to the net and being able to stop in front of the net," Walker said. "I think if you stop in front of the net, a lot of those little pucks and little breaks come to you that way. I'd like to think if I keep doing that, then I can keep scoring some goals.

"I like to think I play the same way no matter where I slide into the lineup. I think if I keep that mentality, I'll keep having some success."

Walker will play with Logan Brown and Alexei Toropchenko.

"He's played really well," Berube said of Walker. "Every time he's up here, he's played well in my opinion and his work ethic and his details out there as a player are really good. That work ethic and that relentlessness from him rubs off on our team. He goes to the right spots. He's around the net all the time. He's always an intense player, he doesn't take shifts off."

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Jordan Binnington will get the start in goal, just his second start in seven games and first in four.

Binnington, who is 13-12-4 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .903 save percentage this season, beat the Flyers 4-1 on Feb. 22.

"'Binner' has done a pretty good job even before this," Berube said. "I don't think we've helped him out enough as a team personally. He's obviously going to be hungry to get in there and do well."

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* Forward David Perron carries a seven-game goal streak into tonight's game. He has 13 points (10 goals, three assists) during his current streak and can tie Wayne Babych (Dec. 23-Jan. 10, 1980-81) for the third-longest goal streak in Blues history with eight if he can score tonight.

* The Flyers are 0-12-1 their past 13 road games. Their last road win was a 3-2 overtime win against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 30.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jordan Kyrou-Brayden Schenn-Pavel Buchnevich

Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Nathan Walker-Logan Brown-Alexei Toropchenko

Nick Leddy-Colton Parayko

Marco Scandella-Justin Faulk

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

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

The healthy scratch will be Mackenzie MacEachern. Torey Krug (upper body), Tyler Bozak (lower body) and Scott Perunovich (wrist) are out.

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The Flyers' projected lineup:

James van Riemsdyk-Joel Farabee-Cam Atkinson

Max Willman-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny

Hayden Hodgson-Morgan Frost-Owen Tippett

Patrick Brown-Zack MacEwen

Ivan Provorov-Cam York

Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen

Keith Yandle-Nick Seeler

Kevin Connauton

Martin Jones will start in goal; Carter Hart will be the backup. 

The Flyers have no healthy scratches. Ryan Ellis (lower body), Nate Thompson (shoulder), Scott Laughton (concussion) and Oskar Lindblom (undisclosed) are out.

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