St. Louis Blues Look to Get Physical in Division Meeting with Winnipeg Jets


St. Louis Blues Game 6/82: Sunday, October 18, 2:00 PM at Winnipeg Jets

As the St. Louis Blues play their fifth game of a six-game, 10-day road trip, they’ll really have to put the pedal to the gas. The Blues play their first of seven day games this season on Sunday, facing off against the division rival Winnipeg Jets for the first time this year. Though the Blues have generally played well against Winnipeg since they relocated to the Central Division for the 2013-14 season, going 7-1-2 over that period, no game against Winnipeg is ever easy due to the intense physicality with which they play.

The Jets’ 21 active skaters currently average 6-f00t-2 and 208 pounds, and maulers like 6-foot-5, 260-pound Dustin Byfuglien, 6-foot-8, 230-pound Tyler Myers, and 6-foot-5, 225-pound Blake Wheeler are key parts of what the team does. While Winnipeg may not be the league’s most skillful offensive team, they seem to leave every team they play remembering it well a few days later. That could be a bad sign for the injury-riddled Blues, who are playing their fourth game of the week.

Both the Blues and Jets have 4-1 records through their first five games, so Sunday’s matchup will help break up the four-way tie that currently exists atop the Central Division, with the winning team also moving ahead of the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators, who are both idle on Sunday.

After losing center Paul Stastny to a lower-body injury on Friday night, the Blues will have to shuffle their lineup on Sunday against Winnipeg. Veteran center Scott Gomez, who made his Blues debut in the team’s previous game against Vancouver, will ascend to a role with the team’s top nine forwards on Sunday. Against Winnipeg’s physical lineup, it’s by no means an ideal time to put Gomez, one of the team’s smallest players, into a prominent role, but there’s little choice considering that no other extra forwards are currently on the active roster.

Considering the way that Ken Hitchcock utilized his forward lines during the third period of Friday’s game against Vancouver, it figures that Vladimir Tarasenko will be reunited with his longtime former linemate, Jori Lehtera, against Winnipeg. Either Alexander Steen or Jaden Schwartz could be paired with that group, though for the sake of continuity it would probably make more sense to keep Steen with Lehtera and Tarasenko and stick Gomez between Schwartz and Troy Brouwer.

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After Jake Allen was much improved in net against Vancouver, stopping 31-of-34 shots, Brian Elliott will get back in between the pipes against Winnipeg and look to continue his undefeated streak for the season.

There was no practice on Sunday and there’ll be no morning skate on Sunday due to the 2 o’clock start, so we won’t know exactly what the Blues’ lineup looks like until pregame warmups. Here’s a rough estimate of the group they might look to roll with against Winnipeg:

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Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera–Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden SchwartzScott GomezTroy Brouwer

Dmitrij JaskinDavid BackesScottie Upshall

Steve OttKyle BrodziakRyan Reaves

Alex PietrangeloJay Bouwmeester

Carl GunnarssonColton Parayko

Joel EdmundsonRobert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott

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