The St. Louis Blues will be down two of their top-10 scoring forwards when they open their series against Chicago tonight at Scottrade — but will get one back.
T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund will be held out of action, head coach Ken Hitchcock confirmed on Thursday. Oshie has been sidelined since taking a high hit from Minnesota’s Mike Rupp last Thursday, while Berglund is out with a shoulder injury suffered against Dallas on Apr. 11.
The losses were offset by news that sophomore forward Vladimir Tarasenko would return to the lineup for the first time since Mar. 15. Tarasenko, who missed the last 15 games of the regular season after undergoing hand surgery, scored a career-high 21 goals this season.
But back to Oshie and Berglund for a minute.
Of the two, Oshie is the bigger loss — the U.S. Olympic standout finished second on the Blues in scoring this year, with 60 points, and was averaging close to 20 minutes per game.
Berglund will be missed in a large capacity as well, though. The Swedish center was one of St. Louis’ most-active faceoff men this year and is an active member of both the penalty kill and power play. What’s more, Berglund finished sixth on the team in goals this year, with 16.
With these two out, here’s what St. Louis’ lines looked like at the morning skate:
Steve Ott — David Backes — Alex Steen
Jaden Schwartz — Vladimir Sobotka — Tarasenko
Brenden Morrow — Derek Roy — Ryan Reaves
Chris Porter — Maxim Lapierre — Adam Cracknell
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen