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Blues get Bouwmeester back, lose Bortuzzo

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Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (41) passes the puck up ice in the second period during a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Monday, Oct. 1, 2015. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

The Blues' defense will get one injured player back tonight but lose another.

Jay Bouwmeester will be in the lineup when the club hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center. Robert Bortuzzo will not play, sitting out with a lower-body injury.

The Blues recalled Andre Benoit from the Chicago Wolves Sunday and he is expected to make his debut.

Bouwmeester, who returns after missing four games with a concussion, is a man of few words. Here, have a taste for yourself.

Reporter: "How do you feel?"

Bouwmeester: "Good."

Reporter: "Good to go?"

Bouwmeester: "Yep."

And with that, we learned that No. 19 will be back on the ice. He will be partnered with Alex Pietrangelo

"Oh it's big," Pietrangelo said. "Obviously I play pretty much the whole game with him. Big impact on the game on both ends of the ice, so anytime you get a player of that caliber back, it's just going to make your team better."

Bortuzzo, meanwhile, will not play tonight. He is out with a lower-body injury. 

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock would not provide any information on the injury, but the belief is that it stems from Bortuzzo blocking a shot in Saturday's game. With 26 seconds remaining in the second period, and the Blues shorthanded, he got in front of a slap shot by Montreal's Jeff Petry.

Blues goalie Brian Elliott referenced it while doing post-game interviews. 

"Bobby Bortuzzo, point blank, sacrificed the body right in front of me, made a huge block," Elliott said afterwards, before Bortuzzo's injury came to light.

The timetable of the defenseman's expected absence isn't yet known either. The extent of Hitchcock's comments on the situation was him saying: "It's a loss for us."

In the meantime, the Blues will plug Benoit into Bortuzzo's spot.

Benoit, 32, signed a free-agent contract with the club last summer, but has played the first half of the season with their American Hockey League affiliate. The 5-foot-11, 191-pound blueliner had 25 points in 37 games with the Chicago Wolves.

"It's been going well," Benoit said. "I was able to get a lot of my confidence back, playing in the AHL this year. Hopefully I can take that with me and play well here."

Benoit has NHL experience. He has played 179 games in the NHL, most recently with Buffalo.

"I think experience is overrated," Hitchcock said. "You can have all the experience in the world, you've still got to play. I think Benoit is here because, quite frankly, he has played the best of anybody (with the Wolves). We're in that situation where we've got four games left, we've sustained another injury (to Bortuzzo) and we need him to be a good player for us right now. He's played the best of any of them down there the last three weeks or so, and deserved the call-up, so he's going to play tonight."

Chris Butler, who has played the past three games after being recalled, will be a healthy scratch. 

***

TONIGHT'S PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Troy Brouwer

Robby Fabbri-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund-David Backes-Ty Rattie

Dmitrij Jaskin/Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Colton Parayko-Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson-Andre Benoit

Goalie

Brian Elliott

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PENGUINS' PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl-Eric Fehr-Bryan Rust

Kevin Porter-Matt Cullen-Conor Sheary

Defensemen

Olli Maatta-Trevor Daley

Brian Dumoulin-Ben Lovejoy

Ian Cole-Derrick Pouliot

Goalie

Jeff Zatkoff

***

STASTNY CAN SEE

Blues center Paul Stastny will no longer be wearing the protective cage mask that he wore for two games following the facial injury he suffered in Anaheim.

Stastny is back to wearing a visor, though longer than the one he wore pre-injury.

"It's a game-changer," Stastny said. "I feel like I can finally see. With that cage, I just had no peripheral vision. It was tough, a lot of blind spots for me, so it was just really uncomfortable.

"We found a mask that's protective enough for the time-being — probably until the All-Star break — and then I'll go back to what I was wearing before. But I feel like I just went from watching regular TV to watching 4K HD, so I'm excited. I feel like a new player out there." 

Hitchcock could tell that Stastny was having problems Saturday.

"You really noticed it on the power play," Hitchcock said. "It's like his whole head has to turn. You need to play the game with your eyes and in his situation. He literally has to turn his whole body around to make a play, whereas before he could just do it with his eyes."

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ODDS & ENDS

Blues center Jori Lehtera enters tonight's game with a season-high four-game point streak (2 goals, 3 assists). 

 Rookie Robby Fabbri has six of his 11 goals in the last 14 games, which is the most by any Blue during that stretch.

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang is questionable for tonight with an apparent hand injury. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jeremy Rutherford is the lead Blues beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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