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Blues could be without Steen against Ducks

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Forward Alexander Steen is the latest St. Louis Blues player to get hit with the flu bug.

Steen, who leads the Blues with 20 goals and is second to Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (21) for the NHL lead, will be a game-time decision when the Blues (19-5-3) host the Anaheim Ducks (19-7-5) in a battle of Western Conference heavyweights Saturday night.

It started when forward Chris Stewart was the first to get sick when the Blues visited the Buffalo Sabres, but he played. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk missed the Nov. 25 home game against the Minnesota Wild because of illness, and left wing Magnus Paajarvi sat out a 3-2 loss Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

"Same rules ... doesn't feel well, stay home, stay away from the rest of us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Steen, who leads the team with 32 points in 27 games. "Everybody else has been able to play that's been sick.

"We'll see how he feels later in the day. Rather than infect the rest of us, he didn't feel well and just stayed home."

If Steen is unable to play, Jaden Schwartz will step into the slot vacated by Steen alongside David Backes and T.J. Oshie.

"He's a similar player with more speed probably," Hitchcock said of Schwartz, the 14th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. "Not the size that Alex brings to the table. Alex is a big player (5-foot-1, 212 pounds), but if we have to go this way, the lines you saw today will be the ones that will play. If Steener's back in, the ones we finished with [Thursday], those are the ones we'll play with."

Anaheim comes into St. Louis on the heels of their third consecutive shootout game, a 3-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Veteran right wing Teemu Selanne is not expected to play against the Blues, which is common when the Ducks play back-to-back games this season. Only once has Selenne, 42, played each end of a back-to-back, and that's because the Ducks were beset with injuries.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, asked if the team had made a decision regarding Selanne answered "Yep." Asked if he would share that information, he said, "No."

It is expected Ducks forward Patrick Maroon, a St. Louis native, will play against the Blues for the first time in his NHL career.

Maroon, 25, grew up following the Blues and will have 70 or so members of his family in the building to see him, including his 5-year-old son Anthony.

"He loves being around the guys," Maroon said of his son. "I take him to skate with me in the summers so he gets to see everyone. He's really excited about this kind of stuff. ... He obviously knows who everyone is. He knows everyone. His favorite player is [Corey] Perry so hopefully he'll get to meet him tonight.

"It's very exciting. Obviously my family and my son get to watch me tonight. ... I probably left 70 passes, but it's going to be fun for me. Growing up, having season tickets in the old arena watching some Hall of Famers. Now I get the chance to play against my hometown, the St. Louis Blues and playing in this arena, so I'm very excited about that."

Here are the projected lineups for the Ducks and Blues:


Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Emerson Etem - Nick Bonino - Kyle Palmieri

Daniel Winnik - Saku Koivu - Andrew Cogliano

Matt Beleskey - David Steckel - Patrick Maroon

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Bryan Allen - Sami Vatanen

Mark Fistric - Hampus Lindholm

Frederik Andersen

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Teemu Selanne, Alex Grant, Tim Jackman

Injured: Francois Beauchemin (upper body), Sheldon Souray (wrist tendon), Luca Sbisa (hand tendon), Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation), Jakob Silfverberg (hand), Mathieu Perreault (lower body)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Maxim Lapierre

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Jordan Leopold (hand), Ryan Reaves (hand)

Note: If Steen does not play, Schwartz moves to the line with Backes and Oshie. Berglund will play between Sobotka and Tarasenko, and Cracknell will play right wing with Paajarvi and Lapierre.

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