DALLAS - With injuries mounting and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson feeling under the weather, the St. Louis Blues will have two players making their regular-season debut with the organization in tonight's matchup with the Dallas Stars (7:30 p.m., FSMW, 101 ESPN).
Forward Nathan Walker is expected to play alongside Mackenzie MacEachern and Jacob de la Rose on the fourth line Friday in Dallas, while defenseman Derrick Pouliot is expected to be paired with Justin Faulk on defense.
Walker, 25, signed with the Blues as a free agent in July and until this point, has spent the season with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage. Walker leads San Antonio with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) this season. He has played 12 career NHL games with the Washington Capitals and Edmonton Oilers and is the first player from Australia to play in the NHL.
"You just have to treat it like any other game," Walker said of making his Blues debut. "Obviously it's on a bigger stage, but I'm just going to try to do everything I can to help the team win."
Pouliot, 25, also signed with the Blues as a free agent in July and ranks second, behind Walker, in points (18) for San Antonio (four goals, 14 assists). Pouliot has played 200 career NHL games with Pittsburgh and Vancouver.
Video: Walker and Pouliot on entering the Blues lineup
"(The AHL) is definitely not where I wanted to start the season off. It is what it is, you can only do the stuff you can control," Pouliot said after Friday's practice. "I went down there every day and tried to help that team win, try to play my best and keep my game as sharp as it can be, so when I got the chance to come back up here, I could play by best and do whatever I can to help this team."
"Every team has to (trust their depth) at some point," Blues Head Coach Craig Berube said of the mounting injuries, which includes Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Alexander Steen (ankle), Sammy Blais (wrist) and now Oskar Sundqvist (lower-body). "It's unfortuante with these injuries, but more than anything, it's the length of them. We're going to need these guys to play well for awhile."
Schwartz - Schenn - Thomas
Sanford - O'Reilly - Perron
Barbashev - Bozak - Brouwer
MacEachern - de la Rose - Walker
Dunn - Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester - Parayko
Pouliot - Faulk