St. Louis Blues (4-2 SU, 5-1 PL, 3-3 O/U) vs. Colorado Avalanche (4-3 SU, 4-3 PL, 2-4-1 O/U)
NHL: Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 9:00 p.m. EST
The Line: St. Louis -120/Colorado +100 Total: 5.5
The St. Louis Blues will be playing the second game of a back-to-back situation when they visit the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night. St. Louis started the season 4-0 and then lost two in a row prior to hosting Chicago on Wednesday. Similarly, the Avalanche have dropped two straight on the heels of a three-game winning streak.
Help on the way?
What began as a positive start to the season for the Blues took a turn for the worse during a quick trek through Florida. They lost to both Florida and Tampa Bay while scoring a total of three goals in those contests, but the potential return of Alex Steen could provide just the jolt needed for St. Louis to emerge from its doldrums.
“He looked good,” head coach Mike Yeo said of Steen, who has been sidelined since breaking his hand in the preseason. “He’s obviously a big part of our group, a big part of the leadership and then you think about all the intangibles that he brings, special teams, leadership, offensively, defensively, he’s a key guy for us, so we’re anxious to get him back.”
Forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored his team-leading fourth goal in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Lightning. The Russian joins fellow 25-year-old Jaden Schwartz with points in five of six games this season, as Schwartz has recorded multi-point performances in three of those outings. Captain Alex Pietrangelo has matched Schwartz with a team-leading eight points (two goals, six assists) in six games, and Pietrangelo even has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his last 10 dating back to the 2016-17 campaign.
Colorado center Matt Duchene, who has asked for a trade, is improving his value with a renewed work ethic and by sharing the team lead in goals (three) with Sven Andrighetto and Nail Yakupov. Duchene is also tied for the team lead in points (six) with Andrighetto while posting a plus-5 rating. Yakupov, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft by Edmonton, scored three goals in 40 games with St. Louis last season. Rookie Tyson Jost practiced on Monday and returned for Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Nashville after missing two games because of a knee injury. Defenseman Tyson Barrie, who slumped to seven goals and a minus-34 rating last season, has recorded two goals (both game-winners), three assists, and a plus-1 rating. Nathan MacKinnon (four assists this season) played on Saturday–one day after leaving a 3-1 victory over Anaheim in the first period, when he took an errant stick in the eye.
“It’s a good learning lesson for this group,” head coach Jared Bednar said following the setback against Dallas. “It’s a different group than last year, but now it is the first time we’ve realized that we didn’t leave it all on the line for 60 minutes, and that’s something we need to do every night.”
The St. Louis Blues are:
- 25-11 in their last 36 overall
- 15-7 in their last 22 road games
- 19-9 in their last 28 games against the Western Conference
The Colorado Avalanche are:
- 17-54 in their last 71 overall
- 11-47 in their last 58 games against the Western Conference
- 2-12 in their last 14 home games against teams with winning road records
Colorado lost at Dallas 3-1 this past Saturday, when a lackluster first two periods left it trailing 2-0. The Avalanche also started slow on Tuesday, allowing three second-period goals to Nashville. They are off to a decent start overall this season, but the Avs have struggled against the Blues in recent seasons. St. Louis is 25-11 in its last 36 overall, 15-7 in its last 22 on the road, and 19-9 in its last 28 agains the Western Conference. The Avalanche are 17-54 in their last 71 overall, 11-47 in their last 58 against the Western Conference, 2-12 in their last 14 at home against opponents with winning road records, 2-8 in their last 10 against opponents with winning percentages over .600, and 1-6 in the last seven meetings between the two teams. Look for those trends to continue.