The Blues will welcome defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk back to the lineup tonight after missing Thursday's game with a bout of the flu.
Shattenkirk became ill suddenly and did not dress for the 4-2 win against Anaheim. Ian Cole stepped in and contributed his second career two-point game (one goal, one assist).
"Everything is good to go," Shattenkirk said Saturday morning. "I felt pretty much back to 100 percent this morning. I finally was able to keep some food down yesterday. ... I skated yesterday for a little bit just to make sure my stomach was settled. I hadn't really eaten much so I didn't have much energy. This morning I felt like I was back.
"It was definitely great seeing the team do well on Thursday. Obviously Ian [filled] in and doing a great job. You're just sitting in bed watching and it's a tough way to watch a game, especially not even being at the rink. It was something where I was giving some fist pumps in bed, but for the most part, just lying around."
Shattenkirk will play alongside Kris Russell, with Barret Jackman and Roman Polak getting back together.
"When there's a definitive matchup, we put Polak and Jackman together," Hitchcock said. "They play well together when there's a good central focus. Obviously Russell and Shattenkirk, they've had a good plus-minus. Russ has been really good since he's (been) here. They're a threat. They're a threat to get up the ice, they're a threat in the offensive zone and Shattenkirk's got the weight and size to play against bigger players, too. There seems to be a lot of bigger players on the other team today. We'll get a challenge back there, but I like the way Russell and Shattenkirk's played together."
Cole will become a healthy scratch again despite the solid outing Thursday.
"Based on his last game, Cole doesn't deserve to sit out," Hitchcock said. "But numbers are numbers and he's a young guy that's going to get his chance. He's an improving player. He's got a better focus at practice and he's improving on a daily basis. If he continues down this path, he's going to put a lot of pressure on people to stay in the lineup because he was very good the last game. If he can continue upgrading from there and continues to stay consistent, he's going to put a lot of heat on people."
Added Shattenkirk: "Ian's at a point now where he's pretty settled in and comfortable at this level. I think it showed the other night he's not someone who's going to go out there and try to make simple plays. He's going to go out there and try to be effective for the team. I think we all know we can count on him in those situations."
Hitchcock also is juggling the forward lines a bit, as he's elevating Jamie Langenbrunner to the second line with Patrik Berglund and David Perron while dropping Chris Stewart to Vladimir Sobotka's line with Ryan Reaves.
"Hopefully, we can get a better three-line game going," Hitchcock said. "For us, Sobe operates better when he's playing with physicality. We'll get big, physical play there and hopefully give Sobe some room."
As for Langenbrunner, who had two assists Thursday, Hitchcock is impressed with the veteran.
"Langs has played unbelievable the last three games," Hitchcock said. "Gotta reward good play – the Berglund line didn't have a great game last game, so we need that line to be better. If we're going to get going ... we talked about secondary scoring, we're getting third scoring because we're getting guys that come in the lineup scoring goals. We need people here all the time to start becoming productive if we're going to get to the next level. We're looking for combinations that can help get that second wave scoring. If Langs can go up there and continue his good play and impact Bergy's line, then that's going to help us."
The Sharks come in with one of the better road records in the league at 7-3-0, and according to winger Patrick Marleau, there's no secret recipe to the success.
"Keeping it simple and making sure that you're ready right from the bat," Marleau said. "Usually teams come out hard at home the first 10 minutes or so. You have to be ready for that. You have to weather the storm and get your game going in those 10 minutes."
Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Matt D'Agostini - Jason Arnott - Scott Nichol
Ryan Reaves - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart
Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Kris Russell-Kevin Shattenkirk
Defenseman Ian Cole and winger Chris Porter, who scored Thursday, are healthy scratches. The Blues are without forward Andy McDonald (concussion), winger B.J. Crombeen (shoulder) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle).
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Jamie McGinn - Joe Thornton - Brad Winchester
Patrick Marleau - Michal Handzus - Joe Pavelski
Frazer McLaren - Andrew Desjardins - Torrey Mitchell
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Brent Burns - Jason Demers
Colin White - Justin Braun
Center Andrew Murray is expected to be the healthy scratch. Coach Todd McClellan could swap Murray for McLaren. Defensemen Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer are both nursing upper-body injuries. Goalie Antero Niittymaki (hip) is still on injured reserve but is very close to being activated.