St. Louis Blues Look to Continue Win Streak Against Division, Playoff Rival Minnesota Wild


St. Louis Blues Game 11/82: Saturday, October 31, 7:00 PM vs. Minnesota Wild

The St. Louis Blues take on the division rival Minnesota Wild on Saturday, and they’ll be attempting to finally have some success against a Minnesota team that has had their number for a while. After losing two out of four to the Wild during the 2014-15 regular season (with the two wins coming in a shootout and a virtually meaningless regular season finale), the Blues lost two straight and four out of six in last season’s first-round playoff series against the Wild to end their postseason run early. Things didn’t get much easier in the teams’ first meeting of 2015-16, as the Blues were physically dominated by the Wild and lost 3-2 in their first road game of the season.

This time, the Blues will try to change things up against a Wild team that has been very successful thus far, going 6-2-1 through their first nine games. Luckily for the Blues, the Wild will be coming off a Friday night game with the slow-starting but always competitive Chicago Blackhawks, so the home team should have a definite energy advantage on Saturday.

The Blues might have it rough against the Wild in terms of personnel, considering that forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Colton Parayko suffered minor injuries in Thursday’s win over the Anaheim Ducks and didn’t practice on Friday. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford, the status for both players is unclear for Saturday’s game:

Coach Ken Hitchcock seemed to downplay the seriousness of Parayko and Tarasenko’s injuries on Friday, but considering the cautious nature with which the Blues have addressed injuries this season–for example, Kevin Shattenkirk missing seven games over two weeks (and counting) for what was said to be a “day-t0-day” injury, and Scottie Upshall being left out of the lineup on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice with some minor wear-and-tear–it seems to be a decent possibility that Parayko and Tarasenko will end up missing Saturday’s game. With that said, Tarasenko and Parayko are arguably the Blues’ two best players and are the top-scoring forward and defenseman on the team, respectively, so if any two players are going to be kept in the lineup at less than 100 percent, it would probably be those two.

On a positive note, it seems possible that Shattenkirk could finally return to the Blues’ lineup on Saturday after participating fully in practice on Friday. While the team has been able to survive just fine without the 26-year-old defenseman in the lineup, he’d be a major addition to the lineup, assuming he’s back at 100 percent health.

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Jake Allen will get his third straight start in net for the Blues on Saturday after allowing one goal in his past two starts. After a rough beginning to the year which saw him allow three goals in each of his first three starts while accumulating a mediocre .899 save percentage, Allen has been dominant over the past week and looks to be making the battle for playing time in goal between he and Brian Elliott more complicated. Allen will need to try to change his luck in facing Minnesota, as he struggled at times against the Wild during the playoffs last year and had a rough time while facing them in his first start of the 2015-16 season.

Here’s a very loose guess at how the Blues’ lineup might look on Saturday, based on the assumptions that Tarasenko and Parayko won’t suit up and Shattenkirk will return:

Updated, 3:28 PM: Tarasenko and Shattenkirk will be out for Saturday’s game, but Parayko will be healthy enough to suit up, so here’s how the lineup will actually look…

Alexander Steen-Jori LehteraTroy Brouwer

Scottie UpshallDavid BackesSteve Ott

Robby FabbriScott GomezDmitrij Jaskin

Ty RattieKyle BrodziakRyan Reaves

Alex PietrangeloJay Bouwmeester

Carl GunnarssonColton Parayko

Joel EdmundsonRobert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

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