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Blues want to re-focus Lapierre's energy

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock still wants to see the same kind of energy from center Maxim Lapierre as he returns from his five-game suspension. He just wants to see it applied a different way.

Lapierre will play Friday against the Florida Panthers for the first time since he was suspended for a hit on San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle in a game Oct. 15.

"He brings a different energy that's winning energy on the road," Hitchcock said after the Blues' optional skate Friday. "He plays hard. He draws our fourth line into a game that we need our fourth line to play in. It just adds stability to our lineup. He's a guy that can kill penalties.

"We're asking him to kind of channel his energy in a little bit different direction here than he's used to. I think he's really adapted to that. It's unfortunate because he was playing great until the incident. Our hope is he just gets back on the bike and just starts playing again like before that incident with Danny."

Lapierre said he understood the message.

"It's pretty simple," he said. "I normally do what the coaching staff is asking me. If I've got to channel my energy a different way, this is what I'm going to do starting tonight. Maybe instead of talking to the other team, use that energy to tell my teammates they're doing great plays. Basically keep my energy for myself."

Friday marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Blues against a team they beat 7-0 on Oct. 5.

St. Louis got goals from seven different players in a victory that is tied for the most lopsided in the NHL this season, along with the San Jose Sharks' 9-2 defeat of the New York Rangers on Oct. 8.

"They absolutely embarrassed us last time," Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. "There's no hiding that. You never want to get beat up that bad on the ice. It's definitely in the back of our minds and it needs to be. We definitely need to come out with a chip on our shoulder and show them a game."

Final score aside, the Blues remember very well that they led only 1-0 with eight minutes left in the second period before they tacked on six goals, including four in the final 20 minutes.

"When the game was 1-0 the scoring chances were 2-1 for them," Hitchcock said. "We weren't playing very well. We got a big boost when it went 2-0, 3-0 quick. We got a big boost of energy and they didn't. ... I read the articles like everybody else and [in] four of the five articles today the coach is still steaming. It's 7-0. I think that's a good motivator. If I was coaching [the Panthers] I'd be doing the same thing. But after 10 minutes it's over [and] you've got to play."

Here are the projected lineups for the Blues and Panthers:


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Derek Roy - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart

Adam Cracknell - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jordan Leopold - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Ian Cole, Chris Porter

Injured: Brenden Morrow (upper body), Magnus Paajarvi (upper body)

Notes: With the Blues playing back-to-back games, with the back end Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Elliott will make his second start of the season against the Panthers. Elliott stopped 26 of 29 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Winnipeg Jets Oct. 18. His only other appearance came in relief of Jaroslav Halak, when he played the third period of a 6-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks Oct. 15.


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Tomas Fleischmann

Sean Bergenheim - Nick Bjugstad - Kris Versteeg

Shawn Matthias - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Jesse Winchester - Scott Gomez - Brad Boyes

Dmitry Kulikov - Brian Campbell

Tom Gilbert - Mike Weaver

Matt Gilroy - Erik Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Scottie Upshall, Ryan Whitney, Krys Barch

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (lower body), Steven Pinizzotto (lower body), Tim Thomas (lower body)

Notes: Goalie Tim Thomas remains on the injured list and will not be making his return to action this weekend. After practicing with the Panthers during the week, he was given Friday off and Dineen said Thomas wouldn't accompany the team on its trip to Washington for a game against the Capitals on Saturday. "We're going to make sure that when he comes back that he's 100 percent and he's healthy and at the end of it that we've got him for the long run," Dineen said. "He's going to be an important piece of the puzzle. We need him healthy and feeling good so we gave him the day off the ice and he won't be available [Saturday]."

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