St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz

(Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

Yeo: Blues Facing the 'Most Talented, Deepest' Opponent Thus Far

Maroon hasn't scored for the Blues yet this season, but does have seven assists in 13 games.

November 09, 2018 - 9:40 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The St. Louis Blues are coming off wins in three of it's last four games and looking to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season as the San Jose Sharks are in town, Friday. Head coach Mike Yeo had high praises for this Sharks team, who is coming off a loss last night to the Dallas Stars.

"We've got a chance here tonight to make a statement to see how good we are," Yeo says. "Because I think this quite possibly could be the most talented, the deepest team we've faced up until this point." 

The Sharks made one of the top acquisitions of the offseason, via trade for defenseman Erik Karlsson. The two-time Norris Trophy winner joined a team that already had two of the top defenseman in the league in Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. 

And San Jose has one of the league's leading scorer in Timo Meier who has 12 goals through 16 games this season, which is tied with three other players for most in the NHL. 

The Blues are coming off a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday and have just two games remaining on this seven-game home stand. 

Starting in net will be Chad Johnson, for the second straight game. He allowed on goal on 39 shots against Carolina.

Also in the lineup will be rookie Robert Thomas, which will be his 10th game played, ending his rookie tryout period and his first contract year will officially kick in. The Blues will likely keep him in St. Louis for the remainder of the year, but Yeo says it's no guaranteed. 

"What we have to decide and continue to evaluate is, is he getting better and is he helping us win games. Or do we see him having the potential to help us later in the year," Yeo says. "When I've talked to him, I've said 'I don't care whether it's the nine-game mark, the 10-game mark, don't worry nothing is changing here. I've seen improvement, I've seen growth in his game, and I've seen him contribute to us winning hockey games." 

Thomas will likely be moved up into one of the power play units tonight. 

There's no Pat Maroon in the lineup, as head coach Mike Yeo told media on Thursday he wants to give the 30-year-old free agent signing a rest day. Maroon hasn't scored for the Blues yet this season, but does have seven assists in 13 games. But there's a lot besides his scoring that Yeo says he has liked.

"His forechecking, his puck presense in the offensive zone, his physicality, his power play, all these things," Yeo says. "Now I think that some things can start to get in your head and obviously confidence plays a part in that. So I think maybe a little reset here will help him out. 

Enter Nikita Soshnikov. The 25-year-old winger will dress for his first Blues game tonight after coming to St. Louis via trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll be on a line with Tyler Bozak and Alexander Steen. 

The Blues forwards lineup will be shuffled again, as Brayden Schenn will miss another game. Blues broadcaster Chris Kerber was with KMOX Sports Director Tom Ackerman this morning, you can hear their full conversation in the video above.

"Still trying to find their way, trying to find where that mix of speed and youth, with the veterans kind of lines things up," Kerber says. "This is about the all-around kind of team game. Can the forwards get back and help out to support defensively? Cant the defense get that puck out clean and on to the tape of the forwards? If they do this team looks as fast as any team in the National Hockey League, they've just got to play it cleaner."With a point in tonight's game, Ryan O'Reilly could become the first Blues player with a nine-game points streak since in his first season with the Blues, since Doug Weight in 2001. 

The Blues are 5-2-0 in their last seven meetings with the Sharks, most recently with a 3-2 OT win on March 27 of last season.

KMOX will update this story with more from the Blues morning skate at Enterprise Center.