Jordan Kyrou is out sick so Jacob de la Rose will make his return to the lineup for the first time in almost a month on Saturday against Dallas at Enterprise Center.
Also Sammy Blais will be back in the lineup after his first healthy scratch of the season, apparently ending the Robert Bortuzzo experiment after one game.
Jake Allen, who is 2-0 against the Stars this season with a 1.00 GAA and a .961 save percentage will be in goal.
The last time de la Rose played was Feb. 8 against Dallas and he's been a healthy scratch in 12 of the team's 13 games since the start of February.
"We have a really good team here so it’s tight to get into the lineup," he said. "I’ve got to keep my head up and stay positive and wait for my chance and when I get it, I’ve got to take it."
Coach Craig Berube said he probably should have gotten de la Rose in the lineup sooner, and said that he'll look for chances to get in the team's other idled forwards, Mackenzie MacEachern and Troy Brouwer, in the games ahead. Though the Blues have two days off next week between games in the New York area, after that, the makeup game with Anaheim will lead to a very busy week.
"I want to get everybody playing here," Berube said. "I don’t want anybody sitting out too long and I’ve probably let him sit out too long. Yeah, so we throw him in there tonight. Big body guy. He’s a physical guy. And smart player.
"It is difficult for sure (without practice). They work on stuff after the morning skates and things like that, individual things like that. ..We got so many games it’s hard to practice, so it is difficult. But again, these guys, they get in the lineup tonight, 1.) they gotta be working hard for sure.; 2.) playing hard; and 3.) competing at a very high level. Compete. And if you do those things, you’re probably gonna play a decent hockey game."
De la Rose will skate with Tyler Bozak and Alexander Steen on the third line. De la Rose played on the third line when he was first acquired by the Blues from Detroit but then settled in on the fourth line before the team's return to health crowded him out.
"I like that line of Sundqvist, Barbashev and Blais," Berube said. "They give us some good games. That’s a hard line to play against. So we’ll need that tonight. Put de la Rose on a wing with Bozak and Steen, two veteran guys. They know how to play the game very well, so we’ll see what happens."
Berube said that Vladimir Tarasenko will start taking contact soon. Tarasenko will accompany the team on its upcoming trip to play the Rangers, Devils and Blackhawks.
"We’re gonna get some physicality on him next week, hopefully," Berube said. "And hopefully he feels good through that and that’ll help out a lot and that’ll make him feel more confident, too. But his skating’s coming. I think it’s just gonna take some time. But it’s coming."
The Blues are expected to practice on Monday before getting on the plane and then on Thursday.
Sammy Blais was a healthy scratch on Thursday against the New York Islanders as Berube wanted to see more from the young winger. Blais will be back in the lineup tonight.
"He wants me to be better and I think I can be better too," Blais said. "He wants me to elevate my game and just be better all-around. I think last game was just a little reset and I'm going to be ready to go tonight."
"I think he’ll have a strong game," Berube said. "He’s gonna give you effort. He always gives you effort and he always gives you physicality out there, which is a good thing. He just has to manage his game a little bit better. You know, I think he thinks of the outcome more than just the process a lot of times. I’d like him to just focus on playing and not worrying about ... I think what he does a lot of times is every shift, he wants to score a goal. I get that. I did too. But you gotta focus on just playing the game and doing things right out there. Sometimes I think he gets a little caught up in that."
Jake Allen will be in goal for the first time since the Blues played Dallas on Feb. 21, a game the Blues won 5-1. With the way the schedule falls, it would mean that even if Jordan Binnington plays against the Rangers on Tuesday, the young netminder would play just one game in a week.
Binnington has started 47 games, the sixth most in the league, and the third-most in the Western Conference behind Connor Hellebuyck and John Gibson.
"It’s just about Jake’s been good and we gotta get him in games," Berube said. "And Binner’s played a lot of games. So, we need both guys."
De la Rose-Bozak-Steen