VANCOUVER - Injuries have paved the way for a big opportunity for Blues forward Ty Rattie, who will play in his first regular season game of 2016-17 tonight in Vancouver (9 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX).
Rattie is projected to play in a prominent top-nine role.
"It's exciting. I want to go in there and contribute as much as I can, but first and foremost, I want to take care of the D-zone and we'll go from there.
"It's a huge opportunity, I think."
The Blues are without centers Jori Lehtera (upper-body) and Kyle Brodziak (upper-body) tonight. Lehtera did not travel to Vancouver, but Brodziak is on the trip. Jaden Schwartz (elbow) is close to returning but he also won't play tonight.
As a result, Rattie gets a prominent role and the lineup will shift a bit.
"Hopefully he takes advantage of it," Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said of Rattie. "He has to look at this as a great opportunity, as does (Dmitrij) Jaskin, who is going back at center. A lot of these young guys - (Nail) Yakupov is getting pushed up in the lineup, (Magnus) Paajarvi is getting pushed up in the lineup. These are guys that didn't expect to play these types of minutes a week ago, but because of where we're at injury-wise, they get a chance to play and take advantage of it.
Rattie said setting the tone early will be the key for both him and the team tonight as they begin a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
"I think it's going to be three tough games in three hard arenas to play in," Rattie said. "We'll take one game at a time and go from there."