Blues expected to dress Magnus Paajarvi, Zach Sanford in Game 4
St. Louis forwards likely to be utilized against Predatorsby Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent
NASHVILLE -- Forwards Magnus Paajarvi and Zach Sanford are expected to enter the St. Louis Blues lineup in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN).
Coach Mike Yeo wouldn't specify who would be scratched for Game 4, but Paajarvi and Sanford likely would replace Ivan Barbashev and Jori Lehtera.
The Blues trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 and could benefit from Sanford's size (6-foot-4, 203 pounds) and Paajarvi's speed.
"If [Sanford] gets back in there, he's a guy obviously he has some size, skating ability," Yeo said. "The games are fast. [The Predators are] a skating team. It's a team that skates to check, so there's not a lot of time and space out there. And he's got poise and execution, whether it's on the wall and to help us execute to get out of our zone a little quicker, allow us to get on the attack and to the offensive zone a little bit more. And obviously he's got the ability to make a play in the offensive zone and create something offensively. Just a guy that I think can help us get to our game a little better.
"If [Paajarvi] gets in there, he's another guy that helps us get to our game. Again, it's a fast pace out there. [He] has a chance to make something happen off the rush, but it's a little bit more his pressure, his pressure on the forecheck. His pressure to win races to loose pucks … there were some things that we did well last game … some things we didn't do well enough. The difference was they got to their game better than we got to ours. Both of those guys are guys that could help us rectify that."
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Paajarvi, who has a goal and two assists in six games, has been a healthy scratch the past two games after scoring the series-clinching overtime goal against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the first round and getting the primary assist on Vladimir Sobotka's goal in Game 1 that enabled the Blues to come back from being down 3-1 and tie it 3-3 in the third period. St. Louis lost 4-3.
"I mean, it's never fun to be outside of the lineup," Paajarvi said. "It's the first time I've been out of the lineup since I got up. So, yeah, of course I was disappointed, but we're [in the] playoffs, we're doing everything we can to win the next game, and that was the coach's decision. We're all looking forward now [to] Game 4."
Sanford played Games 2-4 against the Wild and does not have a point.
"It would be a good opportunity," Sanford said. "Hopefully we can get things going again. Last game, obviously not how we wanted to play, but I think we've got a good plan in here going forward and we're ready for tonight.
"In that last series I was skating well, bringing a lot of speed to the team. I think that's one of my best attributes, my skating, it's gotten a lot better this year. Hopefully I can bring some more of that."
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said Paajarvi and Sanford could help the Blues even the series.
"Obviously [Paajarvi and Sanford] are coming in fresh, and they've played well when in the lineup," the Blues captain said. "When you have the depth that we have, the transition may not be as difficult as it is for some other teams."