Friday, May 6, 2022

(5-6-22) Wild-Blues Game 3 Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- If the Blues are to gain an edge against the Minnesota Wild in their first-round playoff series, they'll potentially have to do so without three of their top six defensemen in the lineup.

Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo remain out and will miss today's pivotal Game 3 with the series tied 1-1 (8:30 p.m.; BSMW, TNT, ESPN 101.1-FM). Each player has an upper-body injury. Leddy hasn't played since Game 1 and Bortuzzo was injured in the first period of Game 2.

As far as an update, Blues coach Craig Berube said, "Not much. They’re out. That’s it. I don’t really have much information on them."

Are either feeling better?

"Yeah, a little bit, I guess, which is a good sign," Berube said. "I haven’t really communicated with them that much today."

As for Marco Scandella, who's missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, he will be a game-time decision to potentially make his playoff debut.

"Well, he’s been one of our D-men all year for the most part, and a lot of experience obviously," Berube said. "He’s played a lot of games in the league and playoff games, so experience, size, he’s a good penalty killer for us. He plays against top players on the other team, so he does a lot."

With Scandella a possibility, it leaves the door open that either Steven Santini, recalled from Springfield under emergency conditions on Thursday, to either make his season debut with the Blues or get assigned back to the Thunderbirds since he's here on emergency conditions.
But the Blues could potentially go into tonight with a third defensive unit of Calle Rosen and Santini.

"Matchups more than anything," Berube said. "You’re at home, you’ve got to do a good job there with your matchups. Faulk, Krug and Parayko, they’re going to get a lot of ice time. You’ve got to mix and match and get the right people on the ice against certain people. There’s not much more you can do other than that. They need to play.

"Rosen is doing, I think, what he does. He’s a good puck mover and he’s a good skater, and I think he’s doing that stuff. I think he’s been doing that stuff for a while for us. On the other side of things, he’s going to have to battle hard down in his own zone. He’s going to have to move pucks quickly on the breakouts and he’s going to have to battle on the D-zone coverage at the net-front. They go to the net really well, so he’s going to have to compete his butt off there. ... Yeah, same type of player (Santini). He’s a stay-at-home D-man, plays around the net. He’s a disciplined player. Again, simple puck movement but he plays a hard game. He’s going to get in the way, he’s going to be physical, he’s going to block shots, those types of things."

This will definitely put an onus on Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk and Torey Krug to not only bring it tonight but they'll have to do it playing big minutes. That, and the help of the forwards.

"We just got to get the puck deep and we just got to play the game," forward Ivan Barbashev said. "I mean, our team is really effective when we get it deep and go play physical, forecheck. reloads and yeah, we were missing some defensemen, but I feel like it's going to be more on forwards to not turn the puck over for the most part and just get it deep and go to work."

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Another lineup change in store for the Blues is inserting Dakota Joshua in for Nathan Walker.

It will be Joshua's NHL playoff debut and will certainly provide some heaviness and physicality to his game, which should spring life into what will be a raucous crowd.

"Yeah, and heaviness, size. He’s a big guy, can skate well, gets on top of people," Berube said of Joshua. "I thought he was playing extremely well before he got sent down. So, it’s a good-size line with a veteran centerman that can do the job in their own zone."

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The Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko line was sealed for the most part by Minnesota's shutdown line of Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno in Game 1; The Blues' trio was more effective in Game 2, with Thomas picking up two apples and Tarasenko scoring once and hitting the cross bar another time, and Buchnevich getting one assist.

With the home changes and getting the chance to get them away from the Eriksson Ek line, the Blues' hottest trio down the stretch will get their opportunities to pounce the next two games.

"Better job. I thought when I look back, Buchy hit the cross bar, Tommer had some good looks that just got deflected or just missed and then Vladi scored, hit a post, I thought (Marc-Andre) Fleury really made a good save on that rush play where we went backdoor," Berube said. "It was a great save by Fleury on that play. They had some looks. I was pleased to see them get more offense last game than they did the game before. They've just got to keep battling through it. There's not going to be easy ice. Overall offensively, we didn't do enough in the game. We've got to get to the net more. We've got to make it difficult more. We've got to get to the net, we've got to get second and third opportunities around the net and we've got to get there."

Thomas said they know they'll be able to get on the ice and not have that unit shadow them all the time.

"Yeah, I mean, they're good line," Thomas said. "We knew coming in that they're trying to try to match up all the lines and trying to find a matchup that's favorable for them. I think they did a good job in the first game. I think tonight we created some more chances. I think we were a lot better. We still got more to give. But yeah, going home, you got to be happy with one in this building, especially against a team like them. Now we’ve got to go home and bring it."

"I think we play pretty good second game," Buchnevich said. "We create some chances. We didn't create enough the first game, but we still got the 4-0 win, it doesn't matter who step up. Hopefully our line step up today and give us a result to our team."

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The Blues experienced the home crowd at Xcel Energy Center for the Wild and it was loud, especially in Game 2. Now they get to experience it in front of the Enterprise Center crowd, looking for the energy from their fans.

"We all know we're going to come out hard and physical so that's what usually happens, but we got to keep our emotions in check so can't be too pumped up. Just really excited for the game tonight," Barbashev said.

"Like Barby say, it's a big crowd," Buchnevich said. "Everybody excited for this time of year. We've got to handle our emotion and play our game and we'll be fine.

"I just think we play in Minny, we have like a good heat, crowd go nuts and hopefully today, we got same thing. Somebody like crush someone and crowd give us emotion and give us momentum and we capitalize on it."

Emotion and energy will be at a premium.

"Listen, the guys will be excited playing at home," Berube said. "We’ve got a great crowd here, a great fanbase, it’s going to be a lot of energy in the crowd. We’ve just got to make sure that we stay a little bit controlled emotionally, not get too loose. Play simple, play north to get into the game, things will settle down and then we’ll go play hockey."

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The Blues have had their success against Fleury in the past, and the key to doing it, which wasn't there enough in Game 2.

"Just be in front of the net, shoot more pucks," Barbashev said. "He’s a good goalie, but we play good players, too, we can beat him. Just shoot more pucks and nothing special there."

Berube agreed.

"Traffic for sure, like most goalies," Berube said. "You’ve got to get in front of them, screens, tips, make it hard. Go to the paint hard, get in there, make it tough on them, make it tough on their D. 

"We did not get there enough in Game 2, that’s for sure. We addressed that with our team, so that needs to be a given.”

So did Buchnevich.

"Just be in front of the net, shoot more pucks," Buchnevich said. "He's a good goalie, but we're pretty good players too. We can beat him. Just shoot more pucks, nothing special there."

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Buchnevich addressed the hit on him with the stick check to the ankle area late in the third period of Game 1 by Wild captain Jared Spurgeon, who only received a $5,000 fine from the league instead of a suspension.

Buchnevich didn't have a preference on the punishment and chose to move on from it.

"I leave at that. He apologize. I don't know," Buchnevich said. "I just (don't) know him that well. I hear he's not that type of player, but what's happened, happened. I'm not injured so it's nice, like he said that. Good words from him, and we move on."

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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

Dakota Joshua-Tyler Bozak-Alexei Toropchenko

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Calle Rosen-Steven Santini

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

Healthy scratches include Logan Brown and Nathan Walker. Nick Leddy (upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) Mackenzie MacEachern (upper body) and Scott Perunovich (wrist) are out. Marco Scandella (lower body) is a game-time decision.

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The Wild's projected lineup:

Kirill Kaprizov-Ryan Hartman-Mats Zuccarello

Kevin Fiala-Frederick Gaudreau-Matt Boldy

Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno

Nicolas Deslauriers-Tyson Jost-Brandon Duhaime

Jacob Middleton-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Jon Merrill-Alex Goligoski

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal; Cam Talbot will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Nick Bjugstad, Connor Dewar, Dmitry Kulikov and Jordie Benn. The Wild report no injuries.

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