After sitting out for two games, defenseman Joel Edmundson is eager to get back into the Blues’ lineup. He will get that opportunity in a do-or-die Game 7 tonight.
“He caught his breath and he will be a good player tonight,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Edmundson missed Games 5 and 6 after playing in the first four games of the quarter-final series against Chicago. The Blues were 3-1 with Edmundson in the lineup and were defeated in both the games he was scratched.
Robert Bortuzzo, who replaced Edmundson in each of the last two games and also played in Game 4, will be a healthy scratch tonight.
“It was really tough watching the guys,” said Edmundson. “I wanted to be out there so bad. I’m going to leave it all on the line out there tonight.”
“He’s a young guy,” said Hitchcock. “It’s a great experience for him. He’s looking forward to it and we are looking forward to having him in.”
The rookie defenseman had no points in the first four games of the series, but did post eight penalty minutes and an even plus-minus rating. He wasn’t pleased with his performance, however, and didn’t fight Hitchcock’s decision to sit him.
“They didn’t tell me too much,” said Edmundson. “Honestly I wasn’t too pleased with the way I was playing. I kind of agree with the choice they made.
“I was making too many turnovers, wasn’t handling the puck right. I just didn’t feel comfortable out there. Watching the past two games, it kind of let me see how much time I have out there. It is regroup stage for me and I am going to go out there and have a good game tonight.”
Edmundson will be paired with Kevin Shattenkirk, which was the combination in the first three games of the series. While Edmundson was out, Shattenkirk played alongside the Blues’ other rookie blue-liner, Colton Parayko. That pairing had a rough time Saturday in Chicago.
“He is a phenomenal player,” Shattenkirk said of Edmundson. “He keeps things within his game and for me it’s great because it allows me to jump up in the rush and be a little more offensive whereas Colton and I were a little back and forth and you have to measure when you are going to have to make your plays.
Shattenkirk expects there to be a higher comfort level tonight with Edmundson.
“With ‘Eddy’, he is someone I know I can make some plays and take a few more liberties with,” said Shattenkirk. “When he is playing well, he is playing physical in the corner and being a bruiser and that’s something that I think is going to go a long ways tonight.”
Here is the rest of the expected Game 7 lineup:
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Patrik Berglund - David Backes
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Steve Ott - Kyle Brodziak - Scottie Upshall
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko