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Blues' top nine to feature different look for Canadiens

by Louie Korac

CANADIENS (38-16-5) at BLUES (38-17-4)


ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is a believer that eventually what goes good tends to at times run its course.

So when the Blues (38-17-4) play the Montreal Canadiens (38-16-5) on Tuesday, they will sport a different look when the puck drops.

But it's a look that has some familiarity. Hitchcock will move around his top three left wings in hopes of refreshing the Blues' top-nine group.

That means Patrik Berglund, who's been playing with Paul Stastny and Dmitrij Jaskin, will move up to the top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie. Alexander Steen, who's been playing with Backes and Oshie and putting up lots of points, will slide to the left side and play with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko. Jaden Schwartz will move into Berglund's spot alongside Stastny and Jaskin.

"It's a different challenge for us today, though," Hitchcock said. "I'm more curious ... this is three new lines. Some of these lines have had ancient history together, some of them, this is brand new, so I'm more curious to see how we look energy-wise with these line combinations coming out to see if there's any change that we can create little bit of additional energy from what we've been playing here in the last couple games.

"... I don't think it's a gamble right now. We need to find additional energy. There's probably six, seven, eight teams right now that's talking about the same stuff we are. I know two teams right now in the West that the conversations are exactly the same ones we're having. Let's see what we've got. Let's see if this adds to it. If it doesn't, we can always go back."

The Blues will conclude a four-game homestand against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They want to gain a split after losing two of the first three.

"I consider Montreal to be a good measuring stick for us to see where we're at and I'm sure they consider that from our standpoint," Hitchcock said. "I think more than anything, we need to get playing a little bit better early in the games and not chasing the games. We've had a lot of chasing going on the last three games. We caught Boston once, but you're not going to catch good teams. For us, the first period and in particular the first 10 minutes, we want to have a better start in the game."

Goalie Jake Allen will start against the Canadiens. Allen, who is 6-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in his past six decisions, played junior hockey in Montreal.

Allen will oppose Carey Price, who can set a franchise record with a victory Tuesday for most consecutive road wins (nine). He shares that honor with Rogie Vachon, who established his mark during the 1968-69 season.

Here are the projected lineups:


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Tomas Plekanec - Alex Galchenyuk

Brandon Prust - Jacob De La Rose - Dale Weise

Michael Bournival - Manny Malhotra - Christian Thomas

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Jarred Tinordi - Greg Pateryn

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Mike Weaver, Devante Smith-Pelly

Injured: Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (concussion), Alexei Emelin (upper body), Sergei Gonchar (upper body)


Patrik Berglund - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Dmitrij Jaskin

Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Petteri Lindbohm

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Chris Porter, Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Butler

Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen)

Status report: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he expects right wing Devante Smith-Pelly, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade for left wing Jiri Sekac, to be available for the road game Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. ... Galchenyuk returns to the lineup after missing two games with the flu. ... Porter will be a healthy scratch after returning to the lineup Saturday following a 22-game absence because of an ankle injury. Ott returns after missing Saturday because of the birth of his son.

Who's hot: Tarasenko has four points in his past two games (two goals, two assists). Lehtera has an assist in three of his past four games. ... Plekanec has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his past nine games. Desharnais has a three-game assist streak.

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