BUFFALO, New York- Wrapping up their brief two-game dads trip stint today against the Buffalo Sabres, Blues coach Mike Yeo is moving some pieces around going back to a familiar potent offensive line and making a trio of switches.
The Blues are reuniting the Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko line that had been so lethal in the 16 games it played as a line.
It's the first time since Dec. 1 against Los Angeles that it started a game (the trio were together for the third period Thursday against Boston) that ended a run of 16 of 17 games. The line formulated on Oct. 25 against Calgary.
In the 16 games together, they combined for 55 points (Schenn had 21 points on eight goals, 13 assists; Schwartz had 17 points on six goals, 11 assists and Tarasenko had 17 points on five goals, 12 assists).
"That line for a good period of time was arguably the best line in hockey. Certainly it was in the conversation for the best line in hockey," Yeo said. "I think that getting them back together provides us with a real dangerous threat and we still have threats on lines two, three, four, whatever. We still believe we have groups that can go out there and create momentum, create energy and create offense for us. Some lines have a little bit different dynamic than others. Obviously (Paul Stastny's) line, we need that line to be a little bit more dangerous offensively or create a little bit more, have a more offensive mindset than say (Kyle Brodziak's) line, but that said, they're all responsible and they're all straight-forward lines. That top line can be pretty dynamic."
Vladimir Sobotka will move up to Stastny's line with Alexander Steen, Ivan Barbashev drops to Patrik Berglund's line with Tage Thompson and Chris Thorburn slots in with Brodziak and Dmitrij Jaskin, making Scottie Upshall a healthy scratch.
"Obviously not scoring a 5-on-5 goal last game, good opportunity to make some switches here," Yeo said of the 3-1 loss to the Bruins.
As for Thorburn, playing for the first time in five games?
"It's going to be a hard, physical game," Yeo said. "Their last game was physical and so I think it's going to have that kind of element. I think we were missing that a little bit last game in Boston. Once the physical play started to pick up a little, we started to drop off in pur physicality to we've got to maintain it for 60 minutes and obviously he brings that element."
On defense, Carl Gunnarsson will step in for the first time since Jan. 23 and he'll play alongside Alex Pietrangelo.
Gunnarsson has only played in one of the past six games and will move Robert Bortuzzo to the press box as a healthy scratch.
"He came out of the lineup and it was not like he was playing poorly," Yeo said of Gunnarsson. "A lot of guys have been playing well. We've got to make sure we keep everybody involved here.
"We've got seven guys that don't want to come out of the lineup, seven guys that are very capable. Doing our best to juggle that, but those guys have done a good job with that."
Gunnarsson, who has six points (four goals, two assists) in 42 games, wants to remain in.
"It feels good," he said. "A little confident. It's still a battle. I've been out a bit and I've still got to keep fighting and try to stay in the lineup.
"I've just got to try and have a good game here tonight and show them that I want to stay in. I think goes for everyone. When you've been out for a bit, you want to come back strong."
Jay Bouwmeester, who has not regularly taken part of the morning skates, will stay with Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson moves to partner with Vince Dunn, who moves over to the right.