BLUES (38-18-4) at JETS (31-20-11)
TV: FS-NW, TSN3
WINNIPEG -- Forward Jiri Tlusty will debut for the Winnipeg Jets when they host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
The left wing was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday for two draft picks,
the second major trade in two weeks by Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.
They acquired defenseman Tyler Myers and right wing Drew Stafford from the Buffalo Sabres in the Evander Kane trade on Feb. 11.
Tlusty arrived in Winnipeg shortly before the morning skate and likely will skate on the second line with center Mark Scheifele and Stafford.
"[The whirlwind] was a little wild, but it is part of it and it's kind of fun too," said Tlusty, who had 13 goals and 10 assists with Carolina this season. "It's great to be here. When I heard the news I was really excited. Leaving [Carolina] was hard but I'm really excited to be here and part of the Jets."
Tlusty will help offset the losses of right wing Blake Wheeler and left wing Mathieu Perreault because of lower-body injuries. Jets captain Andrew Ladd took the trade as an indication management is providing the reinforcements needed for the stretch drive.
"We've put ourselves in a really good position to be a playoff team," Ladd said. "I think [Cheveldayoff] took that as a message that we're pushing to be able to make some noise and he has done his part."
Adding Tlusty will provide coach Paul Maurice with some additional options for his forwards. Maurice coached Tlusty with Carolina and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"For where we are now, and past when hopefully at some point we get healthy, Jiri fits quite well because he is capable of playing in the top-six," Maurice said. "He has the hand set and the skill set."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock also made some changes. After switching his forward lines for a 5-2 home loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the Blues will return to a more familiar look.
Left wing Alexander Steen will be back with center David Backes and right wing T.J. Oshie. Left wing Patrik Berglund again will skate alongside center Paul Stastny and right wing Dmitrij Jaskin, while left wing Jaden Schwartz will reunite with center Jori Lehtera and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.
"We tried it the other way," Hitchcock said. "It was lots of energy with lots of [opposing] odd-man rushes. I think we just decided that we're going to settle on what worked for us in the month of January and a lot of February and stick with it.
"If there are some difficult times we're just going to have to stick with it … because the riskiness of that type of lineup [against Montreal] really put us at a disadvantage with all of the odd-man rushes," Hitchcock said.
Defenseman Chris Butler is expected to replace Ian Cole as Hitchcock adjusted his defense pairings.
The loss against Montreal finished a 1-3-0 homestand for the Blues. They begin a five-game road trip Thursday; 11 of the Blues' next 14 games will be on the road.
"I think that recently our biggest problem has been that we've gotten out of sync a little bit, allowed teams to really get at us, especially from the red line back," Steen said. "So we need to get back to simplifying things, communicating with each other and trying to work ourselves through those situations."
St. Louis will start Brian Elliott in goal. Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson will start for the fifth time in the past six games.
Here are the projected lineups:
Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund - Paul Stastny - Dmitrij Jaskin
Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves
Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo
Petteri Lindbohm - Jay Bouwmeester
Barret Jackman - Chris Butler
Scratched: Ian Cole, Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Porter
Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik
Jiri Tlusty - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford
Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Eric O'Dell
Carl Klingberg - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso
Jay Harrison - Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Scratched: Adam Pardy, Paul Postma
Injured: Ben Chiarot (undisclosed) Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (lower body), Mathieu Perreault (lower body), Blake Wheeler (lower body)
Status report: "We just need less of a drop-off," Hitchcock said of his decision to scratch Cole. "We need to have more continuity from him … rather than having two or three different levels from him." … Shattenkirk has missed the past 11 games. "Everybody has injuries, but it's a real eye-opener for us from an organizational standpoint when you miss a guy that touches all ends of your game," Hitchcock said. "[The injury] has forced us into a lot of adjustments and it has taken some time to make those adjustments."
Who's hot: Tarasenko has two goals and three assists in his past three games. … The Jets have won their past four games at home, their longest streak of the season.