FLORIDA - Ivan Barbashev will get a chance to center the top line with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko tonight when the Blues meet the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center (6:30 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX).
Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo says Barbashev wouldn't be there if he hadn't earned it.
"You've got to earn your way into the Top 6," Yeo said after Thursday's morning skate in Florida. "If you're in a Top 6 role, you have to be a pretty dominant player in this League. He's done a nice job for us, he's contributed offensively and has been real solid defensively. We're going to give him a good look tonight and see how he does."
"I'm just really excited to play with those two," Barbashev said. "They're (great) players and could be with the best players in the League. I'm looking forward to it, and for me, it's just keep playing the same way I've played before. Play hard, make some plays. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Video: Barbashev gets chance on top line
In addition to Barbashev seeing time on the top line, Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will return to the lineup tonight after missing four games with an injury. He will replace Petteri Lindbohm in the lineup.
"I've been on the side for a bit and was itching to get back," Gunnarsson said. "With three games left before the playoffs, it's good to be back. I'm excited about tonight."
Here is the projected lineup for Thursday's game against Florida:
Jaden Schwartz - Ivan Barbashev - Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexander Steen - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Magnus Paajarvi - Jori Lehtera - Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Colton Parayko - Joel Edmundson
Carl Gunnarsson - Jordan Schmaltz