Wednesday, May 25, 2022

(5-25-22) Blues-Avalanche Game 5 Gameday Lineup

DENVER -- The Blues are going back to the conventional lineup tonight in a do-or-die Game 5 today against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of the Western Conference second round (7 p.m.; TNT, ESPN 101.1-FM).

The changes implemented include putting defenseman Marco Scandella back into the lineup, forward Nathan Walker going back in on the fourth line, and both defensemen Scott Perunovich and Calle Rosen coming out.

For Scandella, it will be his first action since reaggravating the lower-body injury he sustained here in the final regular-season game April 25.

"Obviously he’s been out a little bit since (Game 4 against the Wild), and he’s feeling a lot better," Blues coach Craig Berube said.

For Scandella, he slots in with Justin Faulk.

"Just go out there and play a hard game, win my 1-on-1 battles," Scandella said. "It’s nothing special -- do or die tonight. So just play a hard, simple game is what I'm going to bring.

"Yeah, it sucks (to miss games). But I’m going to look at it today, I'm pretty excited to play. Play a hard, simple game. ... You work all year to get to this point, to get to the playoffs, earn a spot in the playoffs and to not be a part of that? Obviously, it's not easy. It's tough to watch. Being up there (in the press box), supporting the boys, I feel like you're more nervous not in the games. So I'm pretty excited about getting back."

Walker will play alongside Alexei Toropchenko and Tyler Bozak.

"He brings skating, energy and real good structure to our game," Berube said of Walker. "He's played really well for us this year. When I took him out at the time, it wasn't about his play, it was about our d-corps at the time, banged up and we needed to go seven.

"He’s a great kid and we love him. Brings a lot of energy and emotion to the game. We’re excited to have him back."

With Perunovich coming out of the lineup, that means the quarterbacks on the power play will look different.

Faulk slides up to the top unit, and Colton Parayko, someone who's been used sparingly there, will slide in and QB the second unit.

"Since I’ve been here as a coach, we’ve used him sparingly or even more than that at times," Berube said. "But you have people who are power-play guys and you have to find roles for people. This year he hasn’t been used very often on it, if at all, because his role is penalty killing and shutting down other teams. We’ve had (Torey) Krug and Faulk this year run the power play, but he’s done it in the past for us and is very capable of it."

As for going 12/6, it will be the first time the Blues implement it since Game 3 against the Wild. They are 12-9-2 this season going 11/7.

"I just think, as a whole, on forward and defense, you gain momentum, you gain chemistry, you're not flip-flopping and linemates and D aren’t flip-flopping partners all over the place," center Brayden Schenn said. "You kind of simplify everyone in a position and you go wave after wave. So you know, the cards we've been dealt where we had to go 11-7 before, but getting (Scandella) back tonight allows us to go 12-6. I think it's going to help guys sustain energy and stamina in altitude and only help guys as a second and third period goes on."

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Ville Husso, despite a 1-4 record in the postseason with a 3.76 goals-against average and .884 save percentage, will get the start tonight in a do-or-die matchup, despite Blues fans clamoring for Charlie 'Chuckie Sideburns' Lindgren to get the nod.

"I didn’t give any thought to starting Lindgren, and I don’t believe Husso’s lost his confidence," Berube said. "He knows he has to play better, as our team has to play better in front of him. It goes both ways, you know? But I think Husso’s very confident." 

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Berube is going back to some former combinations that have worked in the past but haven't necessarily done much in this series, namely going back with Pavel Buchnevich with Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"That line’s been very successful," Berube said. "Split them up for some time, not much going on so hopefully they can get a couple tonight."

Tarasenko has just one assist in the series, Thomas has no points in the series and just three assists in 10 postseason games. Buchnevich has five points (one goal, four assists) his past three games but primarily playing with David Perron and Ryan O'Reilly.

"I think they’re a puck possession line for sure, they want to make plays and that’s a big part of how they had success this year," Berube said. "They’re very good at making plays and finding each other and Vladi’s a shooter. But this is playoff time and if you want to have success offensively, you have to have numbers on the pack and really fight through space. There’s not a lot of space out there, there are guys around you, there’s always somebody on you. it’s about fighting for space and getting to the hard areas. Just like that goal 'Buchy' scored on the power play the other night. You have to get to that paint, get a bounce here and there and that’s what it’s all about. You’re not going to get a lot of time. This team, they’re on you constantly. You’re not getting any time out there, so you have to fight through things, constantly fight through things and be patient. You can’t force it. It might not happen that shift. You have to keep working, you've got to play the game. You cant go out with the mindset every shift of, 'oh, I've got to score.' That’s not the process. The process is to go play the right way and eventually it will come through, maybe." 

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The Blues are certainly not looking at it as having to win three games now to win the series. It's win one game and hope to bring it back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Friday.

"They know that," Berube said. "You have to win one game. Our focus is on tonight’s game and you have to narrow your focus even more than that. You have to focus on shift to shift. That’s very important and focus on the process of what you have to do as a team and individual to win the hockey game."

"You approach it to worry about one game," Schenn said. "You don't worry about the whole series. You know, you worry about coming to the rink tonight and playing together, chipping away and find a way to win a hockey game."

And how do you do that after such a lackluster Game 4? Simple.

"Play better," Schenn said. "I think the message is simple in our locker room. You know you have to move your feet, you have to support each other, all over the ice. You have to want the puck and skate with the puck and make plays. And when that happens, you're able to sustain more pressure and get more chances and, ultimately, that's what won us the hockey game (in Game 2). I don't think it's an overcomplicated message where we have to change a whole lot of things tonight. Just come to the rink, ready to work. Be ready to compete. Go out there and give it your all and expect to win."

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Berube sat down for his media session and before taking questions, offered the following on the Nazem Kadri racist and threatening remarks made following Game 3:

"Before any questions, I just want to comment on my 'no comment' the other day. I’m not on social media, I was aware of a threat made to Nazem, not the racist stuff, and no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that. Being a native American myself, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been around it, it’s not a good thing. So, I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere."

As for any more Kadri emotions boiling over in the game?

"I don’t really think that going into the game (Monday) our guys were overly concerned with getting redemption on him," Berube said. "I know Schenn tried to fight him early on in the game and I thought it was over, then Perron and him mix up, they kind of went at it a little bit. We ended up on the wrong side of it for sure, but I think that going into it, our focus was on winning the hockey game. We didn’t play very well. I mean, that’s a very good team over there, They have a lot of good players, Nazem Kadri’s a real good hockey player, they have a bunch of guys and he showed that the other night. We have to play better."

"The play happened, obviously the emotions are high," Schenn said. "People are frustrated, it is what it is. And now we have to focus on winning hockey. I know we said that before last game, but that's obviously where your attention has to turn. Obviously, he had a good game last game. We can't go out there and just worry about him. We’re worried about winning a hockey game."

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Pavel Bucnnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou

Alexei Toropchenko-Tyler Bozak-Nathan Walker

Nick Leddy-Colton Parayko

Marco Scandella-Justin Faulk

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

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

Healthy scratches include Logan Brown, Calle Rosen and Scott Perunovich. Torey Krug (lower body) is out.

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The Avalanche's projected lineup:

Valeri Nichushkin-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog-Nazem Kadri-Artturi Lehkonen

Alex Newhook-J.T. Compher-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Logan O'Connor-Darren Helm-Andrew Cogliano

Devon Toews-Cale Makar

Jack Johnson-Josh Manson

Bowen Byram-Erik Johnson

Darcy Kuemper will start in goal; Pavel Francouz will be the backup. 

The healthy scratches include Andre Burakovsky, Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid, Hunter Miska and Justus Annunen. Samuel Girard (broken sternum) is out for the season.

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