St. Louis Blues Look for Big Win on Thursday Against Surging New York Rangers


St. Louis Blues Game 16/82: Thursday, November 12, 6:00 PM at New York Rangers

The St. Louis Blues head into Madison Square Garden on Thursday night to face the New York Rangers, finishing up a two-game East Coast swing that made up the latter portion of a four-game road trip. The Blues, winners of four straight, will face an even hotter Rangers team that has won their past six. The Rangers are the only team that’s allowed fewer goals than the Blues this season, having given up just 24 goals through 15 games. (That’s not exactly concerning, however, for the Blues, who have the hottest goalie in the league right now in Jake Allen).

The Rangers have three more goals than the Blues this season, but it could easily be argued their lineup isn’t as intimidating offensively as the Blues’ is. The Blues’ lineup features two prolific scorers, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, as well as the NHL’s leader in goals among defensemen, Colton Parayko, and a host of other effective mid-level contributors.

Meanwhile, the Rangers’ group has two players who have been great scorers so far this year, Mats Zuccarello and rookie Oscar Lindberg, but the rest of the group hasn’t been quite as helpful. That’s especially true since their best pure playmaker, Rick Nash, has just two goals and six assists through 13 games this season. It’s definitely a disappointing start for the 31-year-old, who had 42 goals and 27 assists last season.

Thanks in large part to the fact that recent additions Martin Havlat and Magnus Paajarvi scored the Blues’ two goals on Tuesday night in the shutout victory, the lineup is expected to remain exactly the same as it was Tuesday. Jake Allen will be back in net and will look to extend his unscored-upon streak beyond the 166 minutes it’s already at.

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While the Blues’ lineup has been performing extremely well and does not need to be broken up by any stretch of the imagination, things are getting rough for forward Ryan Reaves and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, both of whom were significant contributors to the Blues’ 2014-15 efforts. Reaves, who played in all but one game last season, had a career-high six goals and tied a career high with six assists. He’s followed that up this year, however, by being held pointless through his first 12 games and becoming a healthy scratch in three games this year, including two of the past three. In addition, he’s had his enforcer duties taken away by guys like Bortuzzo and Joel Edmundson.

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Bortuzzo, meanwhile, did a pretty good job while he was getting consistent playing time in place of the injured Kevin Shattenkirk, but with Shattenkirk now back in the lineup, there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity on the horizon for the 26-year-old Bortuzzo anytime soon unless an injury occurs. Bortuzzo’s grittiness was highly valued down the stretch last season after his acquisition from the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Edmundson and fellow rookie Colton Parayko have just been too good to take out of the lineup this year, and as a result, Bortuzzo sits.

Here’s how Thursday’s lineup is scheduled to look:

Alexander Steen-Jori LehteraVladimir Tarasenko

Scottie UpshallDavid BackesRobby Fabbri

Martin Havlat–Scott GomezTroy Brouwer

Magnus PaajarviKyle BrodziakDmitrij Jaskin

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson–Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

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