Sep 21, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Dallas Stars center Ryan Garbutt (16) breaks the stick of St. Louis Blues right wing Chris Stewart (25) during the second period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Rested Blues look to avoid sluggish start against Vancouver

What: St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks

Where: Scottrade Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

T.V.: Fox Sports Midwest

Radio: KMOX 1120

It has been seven days since the Blues last took the ice in a competitive setting, which ended in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

They used their week off to partake in some team bonding. With several new faces on this year’s team, including Derek Roy, Brenden Morrow, Magnus Paajarvi and Maxim Lapierre, the Blues headed to South Carolina to grow as a team on and off the ice. Their time in the Palmetto State included a deep sea fishing competition, a man date between Jaroslav Halak and Jordan Leopold and a shakeup in the line combinations.

When the Blues take the ice Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks, the Scottrade Center faithful will be greeted with a fresh new look  in the top nine. With Chris Stewart and Roy not showing the chemistry that the Blues organization had hoped for, Head Coach Ken Hitchcock decided to break the two up in hopes of jump-starting Stewart’s offensive production. The Note’s leading goal scorer last season, Stewart has zero goals on the season seven games into the 2013-2014 campaign.

Stewart will be on a line with Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz, while Roy will be centering Paajarvi and Vladimir Tarasenko. Morrow will move down to the 4th line for the foreseeable future with Vladimir Sobotka and Ryan Reaves.

Hitchcock hopes that  moving Stewart onto a line with Berglund and Schwartz will garner the power forward more scoring opportunities:

“We’ve got to get ‘Stewy’ back engaged in that down-low game. He’s not going to score pretty rush-attack goals. He’s got to score those greasy, grimy goals. We’ve got to get more time in the zone, more sustained pressure, and we’ve got to put him in a position where he’s in with more weightier forwards.

Obviously, Alex Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie will remain on a line together, as the three have combined for 26 points through seven games.

On Friday, the Canucks will be playing their fifth game since the Blues last took the ice on the 18th, including a 3-2 shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. The Canucks will be playing their 13th game of the season, which is remarkable considering the Blues will only be playing their eighth game in the same time span.

The Blues will be looking to avoid a sluggish start against a Canucks team that has played a lot in the past week. They will surely come out flying, while the Blues may take some time to get back up to game speed. Halak may have to keep his team in the game early with some big saves.

However, if the Blues can withstand the initial wave the Canucks throw at them, look for the Blues to gain their legs and wear down Vancouver as the game progresses.

TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINEUP:

BLUES:

Forwards

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Magnus Paajarvi-Derek Roy-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Brenden Morrow-Vladimir Sobotka-Ryan Reaves 

Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Jordan Leopold-Roman Polak

Goalie

Jaroslav Halak

VANCOUVER

Forwards

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler 

Chris Higgins-Mike Santorelli-Alexandre Burrows

Brad Richardson-Jeremy Welsh-Zach Kassian

Tom Sestito-Pascal Pelletier-Darren Archibald

Defensemen

Alexander Edler-Jason Garrison

Dan Hamhuis-Christopher Tanev

Ryan Stanton-Kevin Bieksa

Goalie

Eddie Lack

Tags: Chris Stewart NHL St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks

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