St. Louis Blues Look to Establish Strong Presence on the Road Against Minnesota Wild


St. Louis Blues Game 2/82: Saturday, October 10, 7:00 PM CT at Minnesota Wild

The St. Louis Blues will confront a recent postseason rival on Saturday, beginning their first road trip of the season, a tumultuous six-gamer, against the Minnesota Wild. The Blues were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last year by Minnesota, losing in six games.

St. Louis is coming off a victory on opening night, having defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 at Scottrade Center. There were plenty of signs of good things to come on Thursday. The growing dominance of Vladimir Tarasenko was evident, with the Russian winger scored an amazing breakaway goal. 19-year-old rookie Robby Fabbri also scored his first goal in his NHL debut, and rookie defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson had fantastic first showings.

As the Blues face the Wild for the first time, they’ll need to prove that the “recklessness” and “high tempo” that Ken Hitchcock aimed to emphasize this offseason are actually going to become part of their style. Minnesota, one of the league’s most skilled teams, showed a greater level of speed and tenacity in the playoffs last year, and that led to the Blues’ downfall.

After Brian Elliott got the start on opening night (and performed extremely well, giving up just one goal to an offensively skilled Edmonton Oilers team), Jake Allen will get the start on Saturday. He’ll hope things go better than they did last time he made a start in Minnesota, which was the Blues’ final postseason game of last season. Allen gave up two goals in the first 31 minutes of play, which led to him being pulled and replaced by Elliott for the remainder of Game 6. Allen performed well during the preseason, though, and despite his shaky postseason in 2014-15, he still has a very good shot at becoming the Blues’ regular goalie this year.

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After defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was a healthy scratch in the opener, he’ll get into the lineup for the first time on Saturday and play his first game in a season during which he’s expected to be used rather frequently. It’s most likely that Bortuzzo will replace Joel Edmundson in the lineup on Saturday, though it may make more sense logistically to sub him in for Colton Parayko, another righthanded shooter.

It’s also possible that veteran forwards Scottie Upshall and Scott Gomez could make their Blues debuts on Saturday. Upshall would be the backup for Troy Brouwer in the scenario that he can’t play, since Brouwer suffered a minor lower-body injury blocking a shot on Thursday and didn’t practice on Friday. Gomez, meanwhile, could see action on the fourth line in place of Steve Ott.

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Here’s a guess at how the Blues’ lines figure to shape up on Thursday:

Alexander Steen-Paul StastnyVladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Jori LehteraJaden Schwartz

Dmitrij JaskinDavid Backes-Troy Brouwer

Steve OttKyle BrodziakRyan Reaves

Alex PietrangeloJay Bouwmeester

Carl GunnarssonKevin Shattenkirk

Colton Parayko-Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott

Next: Blues Beat Oilers 3-1 in Opener