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Preview: Maple Leafs at Blues

Mike Yeo debuts as St. Louis coach; Toronto's Morgan Rielly is game-time decision

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (23-15-9) at BLUES (24-21-5)

9 p.m. ET; FS-MW, TSN4, NHL.TV


Maple Leafs team scope

Defenseman Morgan Rielly, who's missed the past six games with an ankle injury, said he'll be a game-time decision. Reilly has skated the past two days in St. Louis, including the morning skate on Thursday. However, he was paired with extra defenseman Frank Corrado. "I felt good this morning, but nothing's 100 percent yet, so we'll see at game time," he said. "It's going in the right direction. ... I feel like I've had enough of watching, so I'm looking forward to coming back and try to help the team." Coach Mike Babcock said he'll leave the decision up to his young defenseman. Ben Smith took part in the morning skate as a fourth-line center. If he plays, Frederik Gauthier will be assigned to Toronto of the American Hockey League. "We'll know more after," Babcock said of Smith, who's missed the past 18 games with a hand injury. "One of the trainers will call me and tell me after they look at him and see and then we'll make those decisions. The same with Rielly." Goaltender Frederik Andersen will start after allowing three goals on eight shots in 11:12 before being replaced in a 6-3 loss at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Toronto enters play one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference but has three games in hand.


Blues team scope

The Mike Yeo era begins for the St. Louis Blues. Yeo will coach the Blues for the first time after replacing Ken Hitchcock, who was fired Wednesday. Yeo, who was brought in as an associate coach and was to move up to the top job next season after Hitchcock's contract expired, will have the challenge of getting the Blues back on track after they went 4-9-0 in January. St. Louis enters the night two points behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and has three games in hand. The Blues are three points behind third-place Nashville in the Central Division. "I'm excited. I'm excited for our group and excited about the challenge," Yeo said. "We wake up this morning and find ourselves sitting outside of a playoff spot. I think there's a lot of belief inside our locker room and I know that tonight will be a tough challenge. We're not just going to make a change like this and things all of the sudden will be better. We're going to have to make them better, and if there's anything we can take out of this, it'll put that in their minds that we're the ones that we're the ones that have to make it better and we have to start doing that tonight." Jake Allen, who allowed four goals in a 5-3 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, will start. The Blues will retire No. 5 in honor of Bob Plager in a pregame ceremony.


Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk -- Nazem Kadri -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Tyler Bozak -- Connor Brown

Matt Martin -- Ben Smith -- Nikita Soshnikov

Martin Marincin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Frank Corrado, Josh Leivo, Frederik Gauthier

Injured: Morgan Rielly (ankle)


Blues projected lineup

Alexander Steen -- Paul Stastny -- David Perron

Jaden Schwartz -- Jori Lehtera -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri -- Patrik Berglund -- Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall -- Ivan Barbashev -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Kyle Brodziak (foot)


Status report

Babcock wouldn't disclose which defenseman would come out of the lineup if Reilly plays. ... Yeo said he won't change the lineup for his first game but will make adjustments as he sees fit.


Who's hot

Kadri has seven points (two goals, five assists) during a five-game point streak and seven goals, eight assists in his past 12 games. Marner has two goals and 10 assists the past 12 games. Andersen is 4-1-1 and allowed 14 goals the past seven games. ... Pietrangelo has four points (one goal, three assists) the past three games, including a goal and two assists Tuesday. Schwartz has seven points (one goal, six assists) in the past five games.

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