After missing Game 4 with an upper-body injury, Carl Gunnarsson will be in the lineup tonight for Game 5.
The defenseman was on the ice for the team’s morning skate and was paired with Robert Bortuzzo. Gunnarsson had been playing alongside rookie Colton Parayko in the first three games of the series. Bortuzzo played in place of Gunnarsson in Tuesday’s 4-3 win and performed well enough to earn another start.
"We had a couple games, I think even last year one or two," said Gunnarsson when asked about the new pairing. "I think that everyone's used to playing. In practice we rotate all the time. I don't think it's going to be a big deal."
"We liked the way he played," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said of Bortuzzo. "He showed great composure with the puck. Physical, smart, played very well, so we want to keep him going."
Gunnarsson was originally expected to play in Game 4 but was a late scratch after taking warmups. He decided pregame that he couldn’t play, but his absence was prepared for throughout the day indicating that it wasn't a sudden issue.
"It's one of the toughest things," said Gunnarsson. "Obviously your pain threshold goes up a bit during the playoffs, but at that point i felt that if something happens during the game, that's going to make it worse. I don't feel like that's going to benefit the team, so I'd rather have a healthy guy in there to be able to play a full 60 minutes and possibly more."
Hitchcock called Gunnarsson “moment to moment” on Wednesday but offered no details on the injury, which is typical at this time of year.
Gunnarsson dealt with a couple of upper-body issues during the regular season, one in late December and another in mid-January. Those two injuries were unrelated to each other.
The defenseman could still be feeling the effects of at least one of the two, however he showed no difficulty logging more than 18 minutes in each of the first three games of the postseason.
Defensemen Joel Edmundson and Chris Butler, who was recalled from the American Hockey League earlier today, will be healthy scratches tonight. Edmundson had played in all four postseason games for the Blues but Hitchcock said the lineup change is not indicative of his play.
"No, not really," said Hitchcock. "It is just got one guy that played that well, you want to keep it going. I think the other thing is we did like (Kevin) Shattenkirk and Parayko as a pair, too. Both seemed to make us stronger and feel we're going to need it."