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Blues' Steen, Jackman out; McCabe debuts for Sabres

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres will each be dealing with new lineups Thursday when they face each other at Scottrade Center.

The Blues, already without forward Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb), will be missing forward Alexander Steen and defenseman Barret Jackman. Each has been ruled out for the game and are listed as day-to-day, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.

"Steen is upper-body, Jackman's lower-body," Hitchcock said. "We'll see whether they're going to play on the weekend or not right now."

Forward Dmitrij Jaskin will take Steen's spot on the top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie, with Derek Roy shifting on and off that top line, according to Hitchcock. Defenseman Jordan Leopold, who has been nursing a high-ankle sprain, will replace Jackman.

"It's been a long year," said Leopold, who missed 26 games earlier this season with a hand injury and another 18 since sustaining the ankle injury Feb. 8. "I'm excited to go out and play a hockey game instead of practicing with nobody.

"It's not a very easy injury to deal with. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. You go out there and deal with it as you go."

The Blues (51-17-7) lead the Central Division and are one point behind the Boston Bruins in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Blues lead the Anaheim Ducks by one point for the Western Conference's top spot.

The Sabres (21-45-9) could be without right wing Drew Stafford.

"He's a little bit banged up from last game [against the New Jersey Devils]," coach Ted Nolan said. "It's more of a precautionary thing this morning. Hopefully he's ready by tonight."

Defenseman Henrik Tallinder (lower body) will miss the game, and defenseman Mike Weber (lower body) is a game-time decision. With those injuries, Jake McCabe will make his NHL debut. The 20-year-old was selected in the second round (No. 44) of the 2012 NHL Draft out of the University of Wisconsin and signed a three-year entry-level contract with Buffalo on Tuesday.

"I was focused on my season this year," McCabe said. "We had a good team, we had a veteran team. We had a one seed going into the [NCAA] tournament. It was disappointing to lose that early. We didn't expect to lose that early. I was expecting to go all the way there. It was obviously in the back of my mind, so I was waiting to make my decision until after the year.

"It's been a whirlwind here the past couple days with talks with Buffalo. When I found out I was going to sign that day, I shipped out that night to Chicago and came to Buffalo, did a couple tests and came right here to St. Louis with the guys. It's finally starting to set in now, being out there with everyone and putting on the Buffalo gear. It's exciting. I think I'll have some nerves, that's for sure. I can't wait to get out there tonight."

Sabres forward Chris Stewart, who was part of the trade that sent goalie Ryan Miller and left wing Steve Ott to the Blues on Feb. 28, was on the ice skating with his teammates Thursday but won't face St. Louis. Stewart sustained an ankle injury March 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and was initially ruled out for the season, but there's a chance he could return.

"We're hoping we get to see him," Nolan said of Stewart. "At least the guys got a feeling of what we've got coming back next year. He had a serious injury, so we'll wait and see if he's 100 percent sure before we test him for a game. We don't want him reinjuring it and take some time to recover again in the summertime."

Here are the projected lineups for the Sabres and Blues:


Cody Hodgson - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Flynn

Ville Leino - Tyler Ennis - Nicolas Deslauriers

Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Matt D'Agostini

Cory Conacher - Matt Ellis - John Scott

Christian Ehrhoff - Rasmus Ristolainen

Mike Weber - Chad Ruhwedel

Jake McCabe - Jamie McBain

Nathan Lieuwen

Matt Hackett

Injured: Drew Stafford (undisclosed), Henrik Tallinder (lower body), Kevin Porter (lower body), Chris Stewart (ankle), Alexander Sulzer (upper body), Michal Neuvirth (lower body), Jhonas Enroth (lower body), Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed), Tyler Myers (midsection), Zenon Konopka (back)


Dmitrij Jaskin - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Brenden Morrow - Vladimir Sobotka - Jaden Schwartz

Steve Ott - Patrik Berglund - Magnus Paajarvi

Derek Roy - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carlo Colaiacovo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jordan Leopold - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Ian Cole, Chris Porter.

Injured: Barret Jackman (lower body), Alexander Steen (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb)

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