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Preview: Blues at Avalanche

Jordan Schmaltz set for NHL debut with St Louis; Colorado tries to end three-game slide

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

BLUES (31-27-5) at AVALANCHE (17-43-3)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV


Blues team scope

Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz will make his NHL debut for the St. Louis Blues, who have lost five games in a row and dropped one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. "I have been waiting for this for a long time, maybe a little longer than I expected, said Schmaltz, who will be paired with Carl Gunnarsson and see time on the power play. "But it's here now and I've just got to make the most of it." Schmaltz, 23, was the Blues' first-round pick (No. 25) in the 2012 NHL Draft. He was recalled Wednesday from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, where he had 25 points (three goals, 22 assists) in 42 games. "He's a puck-moving guy, he's a guy who plays with poise," coach Mike Yeo said. "He's still building the defensive part of his game in terms of how quickly and how aggressively he defends. He's a guy that certainly has the ability to execute and help us get to our game." Paul Stastny will center a line with left wing Jaden Schwartz and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko for the Blues, who have six goals in the past five games. "We think that's a line that has a chance to create offense," Yeo said. [Stastny] has an ability to make players around him better. He's a dangerous guy, he can find guys, he can make plays." Goalie Jake Allen will start.


Avalanche team scope

The Colorado Avalanche didn't have a morning skate after a 6-1 road loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. "It's a tough situation we're in, there's no doubt," coach Jared Bednar told the Avalanche website. "It can be disheartening at times, but that has to be and remains unacceptable. We've got to play with some pride, and [Saturday] we didn't have that." The Avalanche scored two goals during an 0-3-0 road trip, are 1-5-1 in the past seven games and 2-10-1 in 13. Colorado's power play is 0-for-22 in the past nine games. "At some point, you got to start showing some pride," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "This is the NHL, and right now we're just playing shinny hockey. It's just embarrassing. There's 19 games left and we got to start showing some pride and be ready to go every night." Goalie Jeremy Smith could start after stopping 10 of 11 shots Saturday in relief of Calvin Pickard.


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Magnus Paajarvi -- Jori Lehtera -- Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Jordan Schmaltz

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Ivan Barbashev, Robert Bortuzzo, Dmitri Jaskin, Zach Sanford

Injured: Robby Fabbri (knee surgery)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Rene Bourque

Matt Duchene -- Carl Soderberg -- Mikko Rantanen

Mikhail Grigorenko -- J.T. Compher -- Matt Nieto

Blake Comeau -- John Mitchell -- Joe Colborne

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin -- Erik Johnson

Patrick Wiercioch -- Mark Barberio

Jeremy Smith

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Sven Andrighetto, Cody Goloubef

Injured: Semyon Varlamov (hip surgery), Nikita Zadorov (broken ankle)


Status report

Yakupov will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for 10 of the past 11 games. ... The Swiss-born Andrighetto could make his Avalanche debut if he's received his U.S. visa. He was acquired Wednesday from the Montreal Canadiens for forward Andreas Martinsen.


Who's hot

Pietrangelo has two points (one goal, one assist) in the past three games ... Landeskog has four points (three goals, one assist) in the past four games Bourque has two points (one goal, one assist) in a two-game point streak.

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