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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 1:50 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Blues, Bruins

ST. LOUIS -- The probable lineups for tonight when the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins square off at Scottrade Center.

BLUES

Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

The Blues will play their first game without winger Jamie Langenbrunner, who is out four weeks with a broken left foot. Also injured include wingers Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) and Matt D'Agostini (concussion). Healthy scratches include defenseman Kent Huskins and center T.J. Hensick, recalled from Peoria on Tuesday.

BRUINS

Milan Lucic - Chris Kelly - David Krejci
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Josh Hennessy
Benoit Pouliot - Carter Camper - Jordan Caron

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Adam McQuaid - Andrew Ference

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

The Bruins are playing without C Rich Peverley (knee sprain), RW Nathan Horton (concussion) and are without C Marc Savard (post-concussion symptoms) with a long-term injury. LW Shawn Thornton was not on the ice for the morning skate, and according to coach Claude Julien is "under the weather." Thornton will be a game-time decision. If he plays, Camper would likely join D Andrew Bodnarchuk as healthy scratches.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:01 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues lose Langenbrunner for up to a month

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues have placed winger Jamie Langenbrunner on injured reserve after the veteran suffered a broken left foot during Sunday's 3-1 loss in Chicago.

The 36-year-old will be out a minimum of four weeks and will be re-evaluated then.

The Cloquet, Minn., native, who signed a one-year deal with the Blues last summer, has four goals, 17 assists in 57 games this season, but along with Jason Arnott has provided a steadying, veteran presence as the Blues try to reach the playoffs for just the second time in the last seven seasons.

The Blues still are playing without forwards Alexander Steen and Matt D'Agostini, both out with concussions.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 12:23 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues-Blackhawks projected lineups

CHICAGO -- Here are the projected lineups for today's Central Division matchup between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins - Alex Pietrangelo
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Ben Bishop

Elliott gets the start after a 13-save effort in blanking Minnesota Saturday afternoon. Bishop will once again back up as Jaroslav Halak continues to battle the flu and did not make the trip. The Blues are expected to use the same lineup as Saturday, but there is a chance D Carlo Colaiacovo and F Chris Porter could replace somebody today. The Blues continue to play without injured players LW Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) and Matt D'Agostini (concussion).

BLACKHAWKS

Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Andrew Brunette - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Viktor Stalberg
Jimmy Hayes - Jamal Mayers - John Scott

Duncan Keith - Dylan Olsen
Nick Leddy - Brent Seabrook
Sean O'Donnell - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

The Blackhawks, who have won two straight after an 0-8-1 slide, are without defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador because of injuries. C Brendan Morrison and RW Michael Frolik are expected to be healthy scratches. Crawford is expected to start again after stopping 33 shots Saturday at Columbus.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 12:11 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Koivu out for Wild against Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The Minnesota Wild will be without captain Mikko Koivu for today's matchup with the St. Louis Blues.

Koivu is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Also, defenseman Mike Lundin (lower-body) is out of the lineup. Defenseman Justin Falk will replace Lundin and Jeff Taffe, a former Blues draft choice, will be in for Minnesota.

Here are the projected lineups for today's matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild from Scottrade Center.

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins - Alex Pietrangelo
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Ben Bishop

Elliott will start in goal after Jaroslav Halak came down with the flu Friday. Halak was supposed to start but could play Sunday in Chicago if he's feeling better. Ben Bishop has been recalled from the Peoria Rivermen as the backup. Depending on matchups, if Huskins doesn't dress, Carlo Colaiacovo, who injured his right wrist and missed one game, would be reinserted back into the lineup. Also, if Porter doesn't dress, Ryan Reaves is expected to fill his slot.

WILD

Dany Heatley - Jeff Taffe - Devin Setoguchi
Matt Cullen - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Cal Clutterbuck - Erik Christensen - Jed Ortmeyer
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Matt Kassian

Nick Schultz - Nate Prosser
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk - Greg Zanon

Josh Harding
Niklas Backstrom

The Wild are missing RW Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), C Jarod Palmer (concussion), LW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), D Clayton Stoner (lower-body) and RW Carson McMillan (lower-body) because of injuries. The team recalled F Jed Ortmeyer from the Houston Aeros Friday and reassigned F Cody Almond.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 3:36 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues look to get back to basics against Islanders

ST. LOUIS -- It's been more than three months since Ken Hitchcock took over the reigns of the St. Louis Blues, but winger T.J. Oshie remembers a specific point of emphasis.

"When Hitch came in, step one was getting pucks to the net and funneling pucks to the net," Oshie said. "That's the very first thing he said, 'We're shooting pucks every chance we get.' And we've gotten away from that. I think that's the biggest part, getting back to that ... then after that, guys are going to be getting more scoring opportunities."

Following a disturbing 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, owners of the worst record in the NHL, on Tuesday night, the Blues (34-15-7), who entertain the rising New York Islanders (24-24-8) tonight, have gotten back to it the last couple days. And the message is funnel pucks to the net, specifically off the goalie's pads.

"It was nothing that was too technical out there," defenseman Barret Jackman said of practice. "It was a lot of straightforward 3-on-2 rushes, 5-on-5 play, getting the pucks on net, battling in front of the net. That's the way our team should play ... very simple, very direct. Getting that work ethic back mentally is a good sign."

And why did things need to be reiterated?

"I think we were trying to move a lot of pucks sideways (Tuesday) instead of just putting the puck on net and letting those guys drive the net and getting rebounds and getting the dirty goals," Jackman said. "I think we were trying to maybe make plays above the d-men where they can get sticks on it or their trackers could come back and be effective. I think it's tough for a d-man when a shot goes in behind you off the pads, you've got to turn around, find it and box a guy out. That's what you need to do.

"Collectively, I think it's the worst game we've played all year. I don't think we played a strong team game, I don't think we won many battles and won clean draws that turned into scoring chances. Our defensive play was not there."

The loss Tuesday thwarted the the Blues' fifth chance at a five-game winning streak this season. They've had a handful of four-game winning streaks and been good at nipping prolonged losing skids in the bud.

The Blues have a neighbor roughly 300 miles north in Chicago that is currently living a nightmarish 0-8-1 skid. Things can snowball on you quickly, and the Blues have gone no more than three straight games with a loss (only once, when they were 0-2-1).

"I think they realize that good teams can go through bad stretches, and you have to recognize it right away," Hitchcock said. "First, know that there's a problem and you're willing to look at the problem right square in the eye and then deal with it.

"I was impressed with the way guys dealt with it (Wednesday). The response at practice was good. It was competitive, guys had fun competing against each other, it was a lot like game-like situations. A lot of competitive scoring and guys really dug in and did a good job. I'm impressed by that. Now it's all about the response. We want to get back on the bike (tonight) and start to play well again."

Added Oshie: "It's been tough on (Chicago) and we talked about that. That's not where we want to be. This could be a step in that direction but hopefully we save it, hopefully everyone bears down. ... (Tonight) is a huge game for us ... character-wise as a team, if we can bounce back from a tough loss."


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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Arnott, Huskins activated for Blues against Islanders

ST. LOUIS -- Projected lines for the game Thursday night between the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders at Scottrade Center:

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - B.J. Crombeen
Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - Chris Stewart

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins - Alex Pietrangelo
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

The Blues activated Arnott (shoulder) and Huskins (ankle) off injured reserve Thursday. Huskins missed 46 games after breaking a bone in his left ankle blocking a shot in Calgary on Oct. 28. Arnott was injured on Feb. 3 against the Los Angeles Kings and missed the previous six games. The Blues are without LW Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) and RW Matt D'Agostini (concussion). Steen will miss his 21st straight game tonight and has been out of the lineup since Dec. 27. D'Agostini was injured Feb. 7 in Ottawa and will miss his fifth consecutive game. D Carlo Colaiacovo appeared to have injured his right wrist at practice Wednesday sliding into the corner boards but coach Ken Hitchcock said he's feeling better and hopes to have the left-handed defenseman for practice Friday. F Ryan Reaves is the lone healthy scratch.

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Brian Rolston - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Jay Pandolfo - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
Aaron Ness - Andrew MacDonald

Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya

Players sidelined for the Islanders include G Rick DiPietro (sports hernia/knee), D Travis Hamonic (nose/face), D Mark Katic (shoulder), D Mike Mottau (concussion) and D Dylan Reese (MCL sprain). Healthy scratches include D Ty Wishart and RW Tim Wallace.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 2:09 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks-Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The projected lines for tonight's game between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues from Scottrade Center:

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Chris Porter - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Winger Evgeni Grachev and defenseman Ian Cole are expected to be healthy scratches but Hitchcock indicated that the flu bug is going around the team and all active players will dress for the pregame skate. Russell missed Saturday's game against Colorado with the flu. Wingers Alex Steen and Matt D'Agostini (concussion symptoms) are out, as are defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle) and center Jason Arnott (shoulder). All are on injured reserve. The Blues put D'Agostini on IR Sunday morning.

SHARKS

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Jim Vandermeer

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Winger John McCarthy is expected to be the healthy scratch. Winger Martin Havlat (lower-body) winger Tommy Wingels (upper-body) and defenseman Jason Demers (lower-body) are on injured reserve.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 1:40 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

McDonald could play soon for Blues, Russell out tonight

ST. LOUIS -- The way St. Louis Blues forward Andy McDonald was flying around the ice Friday at St. Louis Mills is nothing new. This has been a common theme for the past couple weeks.

What makes his impending return from a season-long concussion intriguing is the choice of words the 34-year-old used after the team's workout on Friday.

"I felt really good today and probably I feel like I'm ready to play," said McDonald, who's missed all but three games this season. "... I feel really good. I've been clear on the ice for a while now. I'm real close.

"Today it felt really good. I got to do some more line situations and it felt good. I'm looking forward to getting back in ... whenever that is."

"Whenever that is" is the question of the day that everyone would like to know.

McDonald won't play Saturday when the Blues entertain the Colorado Avalanche. However, there is a strong possibility that McDonald returns to the lineup Sunday night against the Sharks. If he is, he wasn't saying.

"I honestly don't know," McDonald said. "Obviously that's a decision to be made with the training staff, the doctors and obviously the coaching staff will have a say with that. I feel I'm real close. That's all I'm going to say.

"It's certainly not one person's call. Obviously they're listening to me and they want to make a decision that's going to be safe for me and my health. I'm in the same position. I don't want to put myself in a dangerous position. Everyone's going to kind of have a say, find out what's best for me and also what's best for the team. We'll see what it is."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who's called McDonald "the best player in practice" on a number of occasions, continues to wait on that knock on his office door.

"It's really up to Andy now," Hitchcock said. "When he's comfortable, I'm sure he's going to come knocking on our door and say, 'I'm ready to go,' but we haven't had that knock yet so he's a fifth-line player.

"With all the guys that were out today, we decided to put him with a line and just have him practice. I wouldn't read anything into it yet. I hope he's feeling good. We haven't really talked to him much. We'll see how he goes in the next few days."

McDonald was skating on the second line with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart on Friday. He participated in Saturday's optional workout as well.

"Adding Andy McDonald to your lineup's going to definitely boost your team," Stewart said. "He's a great player offensively. He's one of our big-time leaders. We've definitely been missing him and we can't wait for him to come back.

"You take Andy McDonald and Alex Steen and add them to our lineup and it's better than any trade or acquisition we can make. They're two great players and when they come back in our lineup, we'll be rolling on all cylinders and we'll be scary."

The St. Louis Blues will do some more player juggling when they face the Colorado Avalanche tonight. Defenseman Kris Russell will miss the game with the flu and the team has recalled defenseman Ian Cole to step in and play for Russell.

"We're going to get him a complete day off today and have him ready for tomorrow," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Russell. "Ian Cole is going to come in and play today and we'll see how our roster looks for tomorrow, but we're anticipating giving this full day off, Russ will be alright and be ready for tomorrow."

Defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle) is not quite up to speed conditioning-wise yet and is unavailable. The Blues will also go into the weekend without center Jason Arnott (shoulder), winger Matt D'Agostini (concussion symptoms), forward Andy McDonald (concussion) and of course winger Alex Steen (concussion symptoms), who hasn't played since Dec. 27.

The last time the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche played was on Jan. 7, a 4-0 Blues beatdown in which they outshot the Avs 39-15 in a game that was arguably the Blues' most thorough game from start to finish.

"It's hard to judge it," Hitchcock said. "We played really well and they came off an emotional win in Chicago (the previous night). They had another emotional win last night (in overtime against Carolina in Denver). I think it's whichever team has the energy.

"We've got to guard against that first game back mentality, and they've got to guard against the euphoria of winning with one second or whatever was left in the hockey game. They've got to guard against that. It's two teams coming off of pretty big wins. One coming off the road and one coming in late, so this will be an interesting game to see who grabs momentum."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 1:00 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Avalanche, Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Projected lineups for a Saturday night contest between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche from Scottrade Center:

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Evgeny Grachev - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Chris Porter - Vladimir Sobotka - Jamie Langenbrunner
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

Alex Steen (concussion symptoms), Jason Arnott (shoulder) and Matt D'Agostini (concussion symptoms) are all out. Arnott was placed on injured reserve Friday, exactly one week after injuring his left shoulder against Los Angeles. Defenseman Kris Russell was sidelined with the flu but is expected to return Sunday night against San Jose. Cole was recalled Saturday morning from Peoria of the American Hockey League to fill Russell's spot on D.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Peter Mueller
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Chuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

The Avalanche did not skate Saturday morning and are projected to go with same lineup as Friday. Center Kevin Porter and defensemen Ryan Wilson and Matt Hunwick are expected to be healthy scratches. Matt Duchene (knee) is out indefinitely.
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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 2:46 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coaching changes have sparked Blues, Kings

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings are two teams that are perfect examples of how in-season coaching changes can work out for a franchise.

The Blues have gone 23-6-7 since Ken Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne, and the Kings are 10-2-6 under Darryl Sutter, who replaced the fired Terry Murray.

"This is the same way that Calgary played. They play hard," Hitchcock said of the Kings. "They play on their toes, they get after you, they play a simple, fast game, and it's just the same way ever since I've seen Darryl coach ... from Chicago to Calgary to here. It's the same thing, and he gets the team engaged.

"I think it looks like he's having fun, even though he's got some funny faces on the bench. I think he's a very underrated communicator. He's really good at getting the most out of players. He squeezes every ounce out of every guy. I don't think there's many players that play for Darryl that have off-years. He knows the buttons to push."

When coaching changes occur, it's the cliche of players needing to look at themselves in the mirror. Both of these teams have done that and reacted accordingly.

"For us, realizing that we weren't playing as good as a team as we should have been," Blues winger T.J. Oshie said. "We were getting pretty individualistic, pretty down on ourselves when we made mistakes. It was a fresh start for everyone to clear their mind of all the mistakes and the bad hockey and mistakes we were playing. And we started well (with Hitchcock) and I think that just kept building confidence."

Added Blues winger Chris Stewart: "Everyone was a little shocked with Davis being fired. I think we came together as a team."

"Everyone's systems are close, but he definitely added some twists to his that definitely helped us out: funneling pucks to the net, the back-checking, things like that," Oshie said of Hitchcock. "He definitely played a big part in our change. When you're seeing good clips on the video, instead of him yelling at us or telling us what to do, he coached us into what to do. He showed us why we were doing stuff instead of just telling us to do it. It worked well and we've been building confidence ever since."

Kings captain Dustin Brown said Sutter's brought in fresh energy that has helped this team refocus.

"The one thing that comes to mind when you have a coaching change like that is the type of team you have," Brown said. "We knew we had a good team in here. For whatever reason, we weren't playing under our potential under Terry and a change was made, but at the same time, all the players in here are the same players we had in here under Terry. It's just a matter of refocusing after that. Darryl's also brought attention to getting emotionally attached to the game, which was something this team needed.

"When Darryl came in, I think it brought some renewed energy to the team. I think it's showed in our play."

------------

The Kings and Blues not only have coaching changes in common, but both teams will also play the majority of their respective remaining schedules on the road.

While the Blues have 20 of 33 away from Scottrade Center, where they're 21-3-4 on the season and 13-0-3 in their last 16, the Kings will also play 20 of their final 31 games away from Staples Center.

But unlike the Blues, who are 8-10-3 on the road, the Kings seem to thrive away from home. They are 10-5-6, one of the best records in the NHL.

"This is just a gut feeling for this team, but over the last couple seasons, I think we've been a better road team than a home team," Brown said. "I'm not sure statistically if that's true, but that's the way it feels.

"Maybe it's people want to try and play a different game at home that makes it more exciting. I would have to believe that we're a pretty frustrating team to play against the way we play D. It kind of suits that road mentality very well."

The Kings begin a six-game trip here tonight that also takes them to Carolina on Saturday, then Tampa Bay, Florida, the New York Islanders and Dallas.
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