Tag: Jay Bouwmeester

Jori Lehtera

Blues without Jori Lehtera for Game 5 vs. Wild

The St. Louis Blues are looking to build off of their commanding 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, but they’ll have to do so without Jori Lehtera. The 27-year-old forward absorbed a shot from teammate Jay Bouwmeester during the final frame of Wednesday’s contest and is sidelined as a result.

Lehtera also missed St. Louis’ morning skate, but at the time Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t ready to completely rule him out.

“I’m thinking he’s 50-50 to play, but we’re leaning more toward playing him than not,” Hitchcock said after the practice, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ll see how it goes.”

With Lehtera unavailable, Paul Stastny is projected to play alongside Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Marcel Goc will reenter the lineup after being scratched in Game 4 and he’s likely to center the third line.

Lehtera, who made the move to St. Louis this season after excelling in the KHL, scored 14 goals and 44 points in 75 contests in the regular season. He’s recorded two assists in four playoff games.

Minnesota and St. Louis’ series is tied at 2-2.

Shattenkirk lighting it up as Blues play ‘our game’

St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild - Game Three

Following Wednesday’s 6-1 whipping of Minnesota in Game 4 of their opening round series, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock had a telling quote:

“This is our game. It’s not our best game. We can play a lot better than we played today. We’ve still got things we’ve got to work on, but this is our game.

“We’re going to play this game and if it’s good enough, we’re going to put it out there, and if we win with it, great. If we don’t win with it, so be it. But this is our game.”

If Wednesday was truly indicative of the way the Blues want to play, might want to keep an eye on what Kevin Shattenkirk does moving forward.

Why? Well, Shattenkirk assisted on three of St. Louis’ six goals last night, continuing a theme that’s been present throughout this series; all told, he’s recorded helpers on seven of the Blues’ 12 goals and is currently tied with Anaheim’s Corey Perry for the playoff scoring lead.

Shattenkirk is also the first St. Louis blueliner to have six assists in a series since Hall of Famer Al MacInnis did it in 16 years ago.

Part of Shattenkirk’s Game 4 outburst came from a subtle move by Hitchcock. Hitch moved the 26-year-old back onto a defensive pairing with Carl Gunnarsson and the two fared pretty well, emerging with solid possession metrics (while allowing Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo to reunite as a pairing, which was also a boon for the Blues.)

While Shattenkirk was quick to deflect praise onto his teammates following the win, his comments said plenty about the Blues’ top talent coming through in a crucial moment.

“Our best players played well. Our whole lineup played well I think,” Shattenkirk said. “We got something from everyone tonight.”

Shattenkirk is ‘ready to go’ for Blues

Kevin Shattenkirk
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As anticipated, the St. Louis Blues are getting a significant boost on Saturday, as key defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk returns to the lineup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

As an added bonus, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that the Blues will see the return of two blueliners with Carl Gunnarsson also slated to come back.

Shattenkirk sounds excited about shaking off the rust.

“I’m ready to go,’” Shattenkirk said. “I felt good out there. It was nice to just be back with the team and get the speed of the game back a little bit. I’m exited about it.

“I’ve done what I’ve had to do rehab-wise. It’s time to just get back into it. It may not be pretty to start, but you have to get that mindset of playing games to really get back up to speed.”

To start things off, head coach Ken Hitchcock is pairing Shattenkirk with Barret Jackman, Gunnarsson with Alex Pietrangelo and rounding things out with Jay Bouwmeester – Zbynek Michalek. There’s also a chance that St. Louis will dress seven defensemen, but if not, Robert Bortuzzo would be a healthy scratch.

Despite missing 25 games with this abdominal injury, Shattenkirk is second in scoring among Blues defensemen with 40 points (Pietrangelo just passed him with 41). This already-formidable St. Louis squad could be very scary if the 26-year-old can get up to speed by the playoffs.

Report: Blues think Shattenkirk, Gunnarsson will be back Saturday

Kevin Shattenkirk

Kevin Shattenkirk hasn’t played since Feb. 1 because of an abdominal injury, but St. Louis Blues believe that the 26-year-old defenseman will be available for Saturday’s game against Columbus, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

That seems to mesh well with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s note on Tuesday that Shattenkirk’s return is coming “pretty quick,” per the Post-Dispatch, and the Blues’ announcement yesterday that 21-year-old defenseman Petteri Lindbohm has been sent to the AHL Chicago Wolves.

Before Shattenkirk was injured, he looked like a potential Norris Trophy candidate. He had 40 points and 77 blocked shots in 49 contests while averaging 22:54 minutes per game. Despite missing a player of his caliber, the Blues have stayed strong with a 14-8-3 record during his absence. They’re in the running for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) is also expected to return from a two game absence. If both of them are available, then Hitchcock will have a tough time assembling the lineup given that he also have blueliners Barret Jackman, Zbynek Michalek, Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Butler, Alex Pietrangelo, Robert Bortuzzo to choose from. With that in mind, St. Louis might dress seven defensemen on Saturday.

Wild beat the Blues for the second time in a week

Justin Fontaine

In what could be a first-round playoff matchup between the two Central Division rivals, the Wild doubled up the Blues 6-3 Saturday afternoon.

For the moment the Wild have a three-point lead on the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Minnesota has now beaten St. Louis twice in the span of seven days.

Justin Fontaine had a goal and two assists for his second career three-point game.

Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin scored 26-seconds apart in the second period to give the Wild a 4-0 lead and end Brian Elliott’s night early. Elliott allowed four goals on 16 shots.

“Five-10 minutes of the second period we weren’t very good. It’s pretty inexcusable at this time of the year,” said Jay Bouwmeester. “We know we’re playing desperate teams. They’re a team that’s right there and trying to stay in that playoff race.

“We’ve got to be a team that’s playing for first place.”

Chris Stewart, Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu had the other Wild goals.

Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves in his 31st consecutive start.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist in the loss. With his two-point afternoon, Tarasenko now has 70 points on the season.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis.

“There’s no excuses, we’re playing a team that’s desperate for their playoff lives and we’re trying to situate ourselves in the Central Division,” said David Backes. “You shouldn’t need anymore motivation at this time of the year.

“We need to be playing our brand of hockey every night, putting it all out there and if a team just plays better than us, we’ve got to tip our cap, but I don’t think we can say that tonight.”

Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson left the game with 13:50 remaining in the second period with an upper body injury and did not return.

Jake Allen made 10 saves in relief.