Ottawa Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson (31) controls the puck as St.Louis Blues' Sammy Blais closes in during second-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Thursday, Oct. 10 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
MONTREAL • For the first time this season, Sammy Blais gets a spot on the power play in tonight’s Blues game against the Montreal Canadiens.
During the morning skate at Bell Centre, Blais was on a power play unit that included Vince Dunn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz. Robby Fabbri, who had replaced the injured Robert Thomas on the power play, remains in the lineup on the Tyler Bozak line. But not on the power play.
Blais saw power-play duty in only a handful of games last season, so this represents a big opportunity for the 23-year-old from Montmagny, Quebec. Two busloads of family and friends made the three-hour trip from his hometown to Montreal for the game.
Will they be wearing Blais’ jerseys?
“Well, I hope so,” Blais said. “I think there’s a lot of people from my hometown that have bought my jersey. So they’re probably gonna be a lot of Blues fans in the stands.”
GUNNARSSON BACK IN
There is also a change on defense, as Craig Berube will reinsert Carl Gunnarsson on defense and sit Robert Bortuzzo. It will be the third game of the season for Gunnarsson. The trend developing is that Gunnarsson plays against the smaller, quicker teams. And Bortuzzo plays against the heavier, more physical squads.
And Montreal definitely falls into the smaller, quicker category.
“Lots of speed, especially up front,” coach Craig Berube said. “They’ve got some real fast forwards that have a lot of skill. We’ve gotta do a good job obviously of checking and keeping ‘em in front of us. They have the ability to get behind you with their speed.”