After two straight losses to teams sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues will try to get back on track in Vancouver.
The St. Louis Blues wrap up a three-game Western Canadian swing on Saturday night, as they’ll face the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Blues will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak, and they’ll likely get to do so against one of the most hated players in franchise history, goalie Ryan Miller, who figures to start in net for Vancouver Saturday after Jacob Markstrom started the first end of the Canucks’ back-to-back on Friday night against Vancouver. Miller, of course, inspires sour thoughts from Blues fans due to his poor performance down the stretch in 2013-14, when he was acquired in late February as part of the Blues’ most high-profile deadline deals ever.
Though the NHL is a tough, competitive league on a nightly basis, it’s safe to say that the Blues’ last two losses should have been easy wins. But a 7-4 loss to the Calgary Flames, who rank sixth in the Pacific Division, followed by a 6-4 loss Wednesday to the last-place Edmonton Oilers, have made things more complicated. The Blues, who entered the week with a share of first place, are now two points behind the Dallas Stars, and they’re just one point ahead of the struggling Dallas Stars.
They’ll face a Vancouver team that now has virtually no shot at playoff contention, sitting 12 points behind the current 8-seed Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks have lost three straight and have just three goals in their last three games, so perhaps they’ll be a good team for the Blues to build some defensive confidence against.
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The Blues will receive a potentially major boost to the lineup on Saturday night, as goalie Brian Elliott will return and play for the first time since February 22. Elliott went 12-3-2 while starting 18 straight games between January 9 and February 22, but he went down with a knee injury nearly a month ago and has yielded the net to Jake Allen since then. Allen enjoyed a recent hot streak, but he’s now been in net for two straight losses. Over his past three games, Allen has an .840 save percentage and has given up 13 goals. Thus, even if Elliott’s return doesn’t trigger Allen’s benching on a regular basis–which it doesn’t as things stand now–Saturday will be a nice opportunity for Allen to get some rest.
Ryan Reaves will also get back into the lineup after sitting out Wednesday’s loss as a healthy scratch. Carl Gunnarsson will also return to the lineup after missing Wedensday’s game with an injury, so Robert Bortuzzo will head back to the familiar confines of the press box.
Here’s how Saturday’s lineup is projected to look:
Carl Gunnarsson–Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson–Colton Parayko