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Stanley Cup Final

Thomas back for Blues against Bruins in Game 6 of Stanley Cup Final

Forward, out since series opener with undisclosed injury, replaces suspended Barbashev

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Robert Thomas will return to the lineup for the St. Louis Blues, who can win their first championship since entering the NHL in 1967 when they host the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Enterprise Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN).

Forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, who each took a maintenance day on Saturday, will play Sunday. Tarasenko's wife, Yana, delivered the couple's third child, a son, on Friday.

Thomas will replace forward Ivan Barbashev, who was suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of Bruins forward Marcus Johansson in Game 5.

 

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Thomas has been out with an undisclosed injury since Game 1 of the best-of-7 series, when he was hit by Boston defenseman Torey Krug, a play coach Craig Berube said had nothing to do with Thomas being sidelined. He practiced for the first time in full on Saturday and skated in a well-attended optional skate on Sunday before saying he will play in Game 6.

"I'm good to go. I'm ready," the 19-year-old rookie forward said. "It feels great to be back out there with the guys and I'm good to go for tonight.

"It's the hardest thing to watch your teammates go out there and they put us in a great position. I'm happy to be able to get out there and hopefully help them out."

Thomas, who has six points (one goal, five assists) in 20 playoff games, had a lengthy conversation with Berube following practice on Saturday.

"He was just asking how I was feeling and how my legs felt since I haven't been on the ice the last couple days," Thomas said. "That was pretty much the gist of it. I obviously said how I felt, which is great."

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Berube said of Thomas, "Well, he said he could play. He was ready to play, so he feels good enough to play and we need a player. 

"He started feeling better and just a little bit of time off has helped too. So when we lost Barbashev, we talked to [Thomas] and he's ready to go."

Thomas will play right wing on a line with center Tyler Bozak and left wing Pat Maroon.

"I'm excited," Maroon said. "[Thomas is] a guy that, he's got fresh legs and he's young, he's 19. He's the guy that drove our line, me and [Bozak]. He's done a really good job of moving his feet, making high-end plays, protecting the puck in the O-zone, making smart plays out of the D-zone. 

"I'm happy for him. He's healthy, he's ready to go. You never want to see any of your teammates go down, but I'm happy he gets the opportunity to play tonight."

Thomas said, "I was pretty confident throughout the whole time that I was going to be able to get back in. The longer the series went on, the better chance I had. That's kind of the way it went."

He and the Blues will take the ice with a chance to win the Cup in front of their fans.

"It doesn't get much better than that, especially just talking with some of the guys who have been around a while and this is my first chance at it," Thomas said. "It's definitely a great opportunity for me and I've definitely got to take advantage of it."

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