St. Louis Blues Game Preview: Team Looks to Survive Without Tarasenko, Steen Against Calgary Flames


The St. Louis Blues will look to get the ship steered straight on Thursday night as they face the Calgary Flames, yet another projected playoff team among the five that the Blues will face during their final six games of the regular season. The Blues have now dropped to four points out of first place in the Central Division while losing five of their past six and could be passed up by the Chicago Blackhawks with a loss on Thursday.

The good news for the Blues is that they’ve played well versus Calgary in two meetings this year, winning both games while outscoring Calgary 8-1 over those games. The Blues’ last regulation win came in Calgary on March 17, as the Blues were relatively even with the Flames in terms of shots (26 to 25), but Brian Elliott came through to deliver a shutout.

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In an alarming development that is starting to resemble the end of the 2013-14 season, the Blues will have arguably their most offensively challenged lineup of the season thus far on Thursday night, as the team’s two top scorers, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen will be out of the lineup. To accommodate for the loss of those players’ scoring ability, the Blues will shuffle their forward lines a bit. Dmitrij Jaskin will join David Backes and Patrik Berglund, while Paul Stastny will play between Jaden Schwartz and T.J. Oshie. Chris Porter, Jori Lehtera, and Olli Jokinen skated together on Wednesday, though that line could be shaken up for Thursday’s game.

After being recalled from AHL Chicago on Wednesday, Ty Rattie is expected to be part of the Blues’ lineup against the Flames. Rattie, who had one assist in five games earlier this year with the Blues, seems like a safe bet to replace Porter in the lineup and work with Jokinen and Lehtera.

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The Blues will also make a change on the blueline, as Robert Bortuzzo will re-enter the lineup after being scratched in the two games since Kevin Shattenkirk and Carl Gunnarsson returned to the ice. Coach Ken Hitchcock had previously stated that the Blues would utilize the big, bruising defenseman in three more games over the remainder of the schedule, though he stated on Wednesday that Bortuzzo never deserved to come out of the lineup in the first place, so perhaps there’s more playing time on the table for him if he performs well against the Flames. Bortuzzo is expected to replace Gunnarsson, who will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Jake Allen will get the start in goal on Thursday, playing the first end of a back-to-back in which Brian Elliott will likely get the latter end. Despite the fact that it’s a back-to-back, it’s a bit surprising to see Allen get a start this late in the season. The rookie netminder, who has just one regulation loss in 11 starts since the start of 2015, will look to deliver a strong performance and perhaps shorten Elliott’s postseason leash a bit more.

Next: Blues Lose Vladimir Tarasenko, Recall Ty Rattie