Tuesday, October 4, 2022

(10-4-22) Wild-Blues Preseason Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The news wasn't expected to be good for Scott Perunovich and the Blues confirmed a worse-case scenario on Tuesday.

The Blues (4-1-0) will face the Minnesota Wild (4-0-0) at 7 p.m. today at Enterprise Center in preseason action, but the news on Perunovich was not good.

The defenseman will be sidelined and reevaluated in six months with a fractured left shoulder.

Perunovich will have surgery on Thursday.

"It's tough for him, tough for the team," coach Craig Berube said. "Can't catch a break."

With defenseman Marco Scandella (right hip joint) out six months, Perunovich was expected to battle for one of the bottom defensive pair jobs in training camp. This is his third major injury since 2020; he had a shoulder injury that sidelined him the entire 2020-21 season and wrist surgery in January that sidelined him until the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"You feel bad for a guy like that," forward Brayden Schenn said. "He was looking good, looking good before the camp, during the camp. I just feel bad for him and not much you can do but train, get his health back as quick as possible.

"Obviously he worked hard over the summer to come back and have a great year. Just an unfortunate bounce and you definitely feel bad for him. ... It's an unfortunate injury for him and for our team. You never want to see guys go down."

The 2020 Hobey Baker Award winner returned last season to play in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"The frustrating part is he put in a full summer to get prepared; it sucks that you put your full summer in and you get excited," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "He's a good kid. It's just an unfortunate situation. For us now, we just kind of stick with him and try to keep him positive and obviously a long season but hopefully he just works towards it and gets strong and gets ready for next season.

"We kept in touch a few times (over the summer), text back and forth and stuff. He was ready to come in and have a good season and was excited. He's a really good player."

The Blues will now count on a bottom pair of Robert Bortuzzo and Niko Mikkola and be backed with a thinning depth group that now thrusts Calle Rosen into the seventh d-spot, veteran Steven Santini and leave younger skaters like Tyler Tucker and Matthew Kessel behind them, barring any sort of trade the Blues may look at with a potential of unexpected cap space should they put Scandella ($3.275 million) and Perunovich ($750,000) cap hits on long-term injured-reserve.

What it also does is thrust the top four of Parayko, Justin Faulk, Torey Krug and Nick Leddy into big-time minutes.

"It's going to test (the depth)," Parayko said. "We definitely have a lot of NHL-ready guys that have played in the past, which is nice. A long season, you never know what's going to happen. That's kind of the beauty of having some defensive depth with guys that have been in the NHL, but we're going to have to step in. It sucks it happens early in the preseason, but throughout the season, I think everybody steps in, forwards, d-men. Eventually we're going to see guys are going to step in and do our part.

"It's what we (as a group of four at the top) have to do. We've got to be ready for it. That's our job. We're definitely ready. I think we all had a good summer. Tonight's our first game together actually. It'll be good to get the feel a little bit."

"They like lots of minutes," Berube said of his top four. "They want to get out there as much as possible. I don't see that as an issue being the minutes. They've played a lot of minutes before and are going to have to again. That's the way it is."

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Kessel will get a game in again tonight in what was expected to be a strong Wild lineup, but that's not going to be the case. Minnesota will play a number of skaters that likely will get cut by Wednesday, but it gives Kessel a game with many of the Blues NHL-ready skaters; he will be paired with Mikkola.

"He's had a good camp," Berube said of Kessel. "I think he's got more there to give for me. I think it's more of the mindset than anything. He's a big guy's that's got good feet and can skate. He needs to be more aggressive. If anything I can say, it's be more aggressive, closing out and being just firm all the time. Like Mikkola, you get the puck, you make the simple play, move it, move it. I can't stress just moving the puck quick all the time, give it to somebody that's there." 

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Forward Tyler Pitlick, on the roster with a professional tryout, was originally on tonight's game roster but is out with an upper-body injury. Klim Kostin will take his spot.

"He's had a good camp," Berube said of Pitlick, who has four assists in three games. "He's definitely right there in my opinion. He's played really well and did what we've asked him to do coming in here and what we expected out of him. It's just unfortunate he got banged up."

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Forward Vladimir Tarasenko (illness) missed his second straight day; he was not on the ice at practice on Monday and likely would have played tonight on a line with Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich, but will be replaced on that unit with Josh Leivo.

Forward Logan Brown (upper body), who also missed practice on Monday, did not skate Tuesday.

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-Jordan Kyrou

Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Josh Leivo

Jake Neighbours-Brayden Schenn-Nathan Walker

Matthew Highmore-Noel Acciari-Klim Kostin

Nick Leddy-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Niko Mikkola-Matthew Kessel

Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Joel Hofer will be the backup.

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The Wild's projected roster:

Forwards: Sam Steel, Nic Petan, Brandon Duhaime, Marco Rossi, Connor Dewar, Steven Fogarty, Adam Beckman, Mason Shaw, Mitchell Chaffee, Nick Swaney, Brandon Baddock.

Defensemen: Jake Middleton, Ryan O'Rourke, Dakota Mermis, Calen Addison, Andrej Sustr, Carson Lambos.

Goalies: Filip Gustavsson will start in goal; Marc-Andre Fleury will be the backup.

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