Anaheim Ducks Line Rushes vs. St. Louis Blues: 10/30/2014

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The Anaheim Ducks continue their four-game road trip through the Central Division with a bout against the St. Louis Blues tonight. Coming off a 1-0 shutout win over a Western Conference powerhouse in the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ducks have won eight of their past nine games after dropping the season opener. The Blues are seen as a Stanley Cup contender, with their physical style of play and good defense under coach Ken Hitchcock. The Ducks and Blues have already faced off once this season, with Anaheim winning 3-0 at home to give goaltender Frederik Andersen the first shutout win of his career.

Matt Beleskey will again skate on the top line for the Ducks. Beleskey has five goals in ten games this season, including a stretch where he scored a goal in three consecutive games and four goals in five contests. Dany Heatley did not have a bad debut on Tuesday in Chicago, but he was not great either, and he needs to get rolling along. Heatley will skate on the second line centered by Ryan Kesler. William Karlsson will sit again tonight, so Rickard Rakell will once again center the Ducks’ fourth line. Patrick Maroon, who suffered an MCL sprain against the Buffalo Sabres on October 13th, has progressed faster in his rehab than expected. Coach Bruce Boudreau told the media that Maroon, who was initially diagnosed to miss four to six weeks, may draw into the lineup tomorrow against Dallas or Sunday against Colorado.

As reported by Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register, here are the expected lineups for both teams tonight.

Anaheim Ducks Forward Lines:

Beleksey – Ryan GetzlafCorey Perry
Heatley – Kesler – Devante Smith-Pelly
Andrew CoglianoNate ThompsonJakob Silfverberg
Emerson Etem – Rakell – Tim Jackman

On the Ducks’ blue-line, Clayton Stoner topped 20 minutes of ice time for the first time this season after playing on the top pairing with Cam Fowler. Stoner got moved up from the third pairing after Ben Lovejoy suffered a broken finger while fighting Joe Pavelski this past Sunday. Josh Manson will have to wait to make his NHL debut after being called up on Tuesday, while Mark Fistric will draw in for the second straight game. Fistric logged 14:58 of ice time and delivered a great hip check to Michal Rozsival in the first period.

Anaheim Ducks Defense Pairings:

Fowler – Stoner
Hampus LindholmFrancois Beauchemin
Fistric – Sami Vatanen

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues are coming off a road win of their own, defeating the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday. Vladimir Tarasenko notched the game-winning power-play goal in overtime while Tyler Seguin was serving a high-sticking minor. The Blues have been hit hard by the injury bug, already without marquee free-agent Paul Stastny because of a shoulder injury suffered against the Arizona Coyotes on October 18th. However, coach Ken Hitchcock announced that fellow US Olympians David Backes and T.J Oshie are out indefinitely with concussions suffered on Tuesday. This means newly signed Finnish centerman Jori Lehtera will skate on the top line. Jaden Schwartz leads the Blues with five goals, including a hat trick against the Coyotes.

St. Louis Blues Forward Lines:

Alex Steen – Lehtera – Tarasenko
Schwartz – Patrik BerglundJoakim Lindstrom
Dmitrij JaskinSteve OttMagnus Paajarvi
Chris PorterMaxim LapierreRyan Reaves

For the Blues’ defense, Canadian Olympians Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester are back together on the top pairing after playing the first few games of the season apart. Carl Gunnarsson, who was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, made his Blues debut on Tuesday in Dallas. Hitchcock did not rule out that the Blues may play seven defensemen. If that happens, Jordan Leopold should draw in for Lindstrom. Kevin Shattenkirk has a goal and eight points on the year, six of which have come while quarterbacking the St. Louis power-play. The US Olympian is also averaging 22:43 of ice time per game, third on the team behind Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester.

St. Louis Blues Defense Pairings:

Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo
Gunnarsson – Shattenkirk
Ian ColeBarret Jackman

In net, John Gibson (2-1-0, 2.33 GAA, .926 SV%) draws his second consecutive start after stopping all 38 shots against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. Gibson has played well after returning from his AHL stint, going 2-0 with a 0.50 GAA and stopping 54 of the 55 shots he has faced in those two starts for a .982 SV%. Opposing him will be youngster Jake Allen (1-1-0, 2.02 GAA, .915 SV%), who gets his first start since last Thursday, when Allen allowed three goals on 22 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues’ faith in Allen was a major reason they let goaltender Ryan Miller leave in free agency, similar to how the Ducks allowed Jonas Hiller to walk because of their faith in both Andersen and Gibson.

Jason Byun is one of the editors for Pucks of a Feather. He can be found on Twitter. For more Anaheim Ducks coverage, follow Pucks of a Feather on Twitter or like us on Facebook.