St. Louis Blues Look to Shake Things Up with Revamped Lineup Against Arizona Coyotes


A new-look Blues lineup will attempt to get things going against an ascending young Coyotes team.

St. Louis Blues Game 28/82: Tuesday, December 8, 7:00 PM vs. Arizona Coyotes

The St. Louis Blues haven’t looked very good at all lately, going winless in their past three games and taking an embarrassing 4-1 loss against the Eastern Conference-worst Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. To someone who watches every Blues game, it’s almost astonishing to learn that they still have the third-most points in the Western Conference and still sit in second place in the Central Division, which is often considered the NHL’s best. Things will need to change quickly if the Blues are to continue the run as one of the Western Conference’s best teams, and it seems as if the Blues are doing everything in their power to get things back on the right track at the moment.

On Tuesday night, the Blues will battle with a young, rebuilt Coyotes team that has gotten off to a solid start during 2015-16 and currently sits in third place in the Pacific Division with a 13-13-1 record. The ‘Yotes have been reinvigorated by a successful youth movement so far this year; 24-year-old defenseman Oliver Edman-Larsson, who was already the face of the team’s future, has now been joined by 20-year-olds Max Domi, who is the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals and 13 assists, and Anthony Duclair, who has eight goals and seven assists thus far.

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The Blues will also get the opportunity to face defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who was briefly a member of the Blues last season after being traded from Arizona at the deadline and playing in 15 games (plus all six playoff contests) following his recovery from a concussion sustained with the Coyotes. In what seemed to be an arrangement that worked well for both Michalek and the Blues, he returned to his former team on the first day of free agency this summer, signing a two-year contract. It will be Michalek’s first visit back to St. Louis since his Blues career came to an unceremonious end with the Blues’ six-game first-round postseason series loss to the Minnesota Wild last April.

The biggest change to Tuesday’s Blues lineup will be the assembly of a new top line, which will feature Magnus Paajarvi getting arguably the biggest opportunity of his NHL career as he plays alongside Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko. Paajarvi, who has struggled with turnovers at times but has looked much more like an NHL player this season than he ever did before, should provide some needed balance to the line. Rather than having the team’s top two scorers, Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, both flanking Stastny, the Blues can get a skilled energy guy to fill out the first line while freeing up Steen to team with center David Backes and a more rugged winger in Troy Brouwer. The Blues will have to hope the more balanced lines solve the scoring outage that they’ve experienced recently.

Forward Steve Ott will miss the next three months after suffering hamstring tears in both legs during Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs. Scottie Upshall will assume his left wing spot on the fourth line, which will likely be a long-term assignment for him now that Ott is out. Though the Blues will miss Ott’s energy and veteran leadership, they can also get those skills out of the veteran Upshall, who is 32 years old and is quite literally bouncing off the walls when he’s on the ice. If the Blues need to move Upshall, who’s tied for sixth on the team in goals, back to a scoring line, they could always move Paajarvi or Dmitrij Jaskin down to fill Ott’s vacated role.

The Blues will have one other significant change in the lineup on Tuesday, as defenseman Petteri Lindbohm will make his 2015-16 NHL debut after spending the first two months of the season in the AHL. He was swapped for rookie Joel Edmundson following Saturday’s game, and the Blues will hope that he can provide some physicality, a little bit of offense, and most importantly consistency in front of his own net, which Edmundson had struggled with over the past couple weeks. Lindbohm was very impressive as a rookie for the Blues last year, playing 23 games while scoring two goals and adding an assist with a minus-1 rating. He followed that up with a preseason showing that would have been perfectly fine if not for Edmundson’s lights-out showing during the same time frame, and he went back down to Chicago after surprisingly being demoted and did everything he needed to do to earn the promotion back to the NHL.

Here’s what the Blues’ Tuesday lineup will look like barring injury:

Magnus Paajarvi-Paul StastnyVladimir Tarasenko

Alexander SteenDavid BackesTroy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin-Jori LehteraRobby Fabbri

Scottie UpshallKyle BrodziakRyan Reaves

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo

Carl GunnarssonKevin Shattenkirk

Petteri LindbohmColton Parayko

Jake Allen

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