St. Louis Blues vs. Montreal Canadiens: Game Preview


After enduring a tough shutout loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night which dropped them out of first place in the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues will be hoping to rally on Thursday night as they face what is likely their toughest test of the season thus far. They’ll be traveling to Montreal to play the Canadiens, who are surging and have the most points in the NHL this year, heading into Thursday’s game with a 14-5-1 record.

Montreal doesn’t have anyone who’s been quite as offensively dominant as the Blues’ combination of Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera, and Jaden Schwartz has been this year. With that said, they’re a very sound fundamental group, get consistent contributions from many different players Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, and have arguably the league’s best defenseman in P.K. Subban. They’re both scoring and giving up an average of 2.55 goals per game, so they are not as statistically dominant in either end as the Blues are, yet they’re still finding ways to win games at a more impressive rate.

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The Blues will get the chance to face two former teammates on Thursday, as forward Lars Eller, a former first-rounder who played seven games in the NHL with the Blues before being traded for Jaroslav Halak, and 36-year-old defenseman Mike Weaver, who was in St. Louis from 2008 to 2010, are on the Canadiens’ roster.

After Brian Elliott got the start in goal on Tuesday, Jake Allen will be in net tonight. Coach Ken Hitchock said at Wednesday’s practice that forward Magnus Paajarvi will be inserted into the lineup, which will mark the 23-year-old’s first action since November 11 against Buffalo. Hitchcock did not specify which forward would sit to accommodate Paajarvi’s presence, and he also suggested that Chris Porter, a healthy scratch for the past three games, could get a chance. Some candidates to be scratched could be Joakim Lindstrom, who has just three points and a minus-3 rating for the season, and fourth-liners Maxim Lapierre and Steve Ott, both of whom have been held without a goal this year. These changes will mark a change for the Blues, as they had stuck with the same lineup for three games, the longest such stretch of the season thus far.