Saturday, February 24

Blues notebook: Buchnevich gets first ride with O’Reilly line | St.Louis Blues

DENVER — Blues coach Craig Berube shuffled his top three lines for Game 2 on Thursday, resulting in two lines that had not opened a game together all season, and a third line that hadn’t played together since January.

Pavel Buchnevich joined the Ryan O’Reilly-David Perron line for the first time to open a game.

Perron said he remembered playing with Buchnevich for a couple of third-period shifts in a blowout loss to Calgary on Jan. 24. But that’s it.

“For O’Ry and I, it’s a lot similar every single night,” Perron said after the morning skate. “We want to go play deep, hang onto the puck, make the other team defend more than they did the first (game). And I think Buchy can really add to that the way he hangs onto the puck, the way he makes plays, and trying to get that goal that he’s talking about a lot.”

After scoring 30 goals during the regular season, Buchnevich had not scored a goal in seven postseason games going into Thursday’s contest. He did have four assists, however. Buchnevich also played in eight prior postseason games over five seasons with the New York Rangers without scoring a goal.

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Another first-time line Thursday was Ivan Barbashev-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko. This wasn’t a big adjustment. Schenn has played more than 20 games this season on a line with Barbashev (although not with Barbashev and Tarasenko together). And although he’s played only a handful of times with Tarasenko this season, Schenn has played tons with him over the years.

That left a third line in the top nine of Brandon Saad-Robert Thomas-Jordan Kyrou. That trio played together five times previously to open a game over a six-game stretch from Jan. 13 against Seattle through that Jan. 24 game at Calgary.

“It seems like Kyrou gets a lot more engaged in the game when he’s with Thomas,” Berube said.

head games

When hockey players and coaches talk about using your head on the ice, this isn’t what they had in mind.

But there was Robert Bortuzzo, sliding in front of goalie Ville Husso to block a Joel Eriksson Ek shot in Game 2 of the Minnesota series. Only to have the shot strike him in the side of the head.

“I mean, I wasn’t trying to block it with my head,” Bortuzzo said Thursday, in his first comments about the scary May 4 injury. “But just trying to take away shooting lanes, you know? Sometimes if you go down in front of the goalie, (he will) know it’s coming higher.”

“So it’s kind of a broken play. And sometimes you can catch a guy off-guard if you’re willing to slide in tougher areas. So that’s all it was.”

Somehow, the veteran Blues defenseman was able to leave the ice under his own power.

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“You’re trying to assess things as quickly as you can, physically,” Bortuzzo said. “You can tell (Husso) was kind of calling (for help), so you knew there was a bit of concern.”

Bortuzzo missed the next two games before returning for Game 5 against the Wild, with a black eye as a souvenir of the incident — and then promptly slid to block a shot early in that game.

“It’s something that’s kind of just in you,” Bortuzzo said. “It’s a lot of years of playing a certain way. You can’t just really turn it off. You do your best to shield your face and head and what not, but it just kind of goes back to sacrifice, you know? It’s just kind of an instinctual thing.”

Scandella in neutral

Marco Scandella skated with the Blues again Thursday during the morning skate, but didn’t appear to be any closer to returning to action. He hasn’t played since Game 4 of the Minnesota series, when he aggravated a lower-body injury in the first period.

“He’s going to have to make a decision at some point when he thinks he’s ready to play, and he’ll play,” Berube said. “He made that decision before and he obviously wasn’t well enough to play and he tried. That’s what they do.

“So I don’t think he wants to go down that road again, where he puts himself in that position but then can’t finish.”

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