The St. Louis Blues will have a shot at clinching the top seed in the Western Conference on Saturday, and they’ll go after it with two of their best offensive weapons back in the lineup.
Vladimir Tarasenko, out since Mar. 31 with a leg injury and Alex Steen, out since Mar. 28 with a lower-body ailment, will both play when the Blues face the Wild at Scottrade (3 p.m. ET, NBC).
Tarasenko, who leads the Blues in goals with 36, has missed all five of the team’s games in April. He’s going to be an incredibly important player come playoff time; the Russian winger emerged as St. Louis’ most dynamic sniper this season and, last spring, showed an ability to raise his level by scoring a team-high four goals in six games during a Round 1 loss to Chicago.
Steen, who had 24 goals and 62 points in 73 games this year, will also be a key figure for the Blues — but in a different sort of way. He needs to show something more after struggling to make an impact in previous playoff appearances. In 25 career postseason games for St. Louis, Steen has just five goals and a minus-5 rating — last year he only scored one goal against the ‘Hawks, after netting a career-high 33 in the regular season.
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center with puck drop at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.
The Blackhawks and Blues conclude their season series tonight in St. Louis. Both teams have won two games in the series.
St. Louis used a 2-1 win over Chicago on Sunday to take over top spot in the Central Division. Jake Allen, who won that game for the Blues, gets the call again Thursday for his third straight start. Allen may have stolen the starting job from veteran Brian Elliott as the playoffs approach.
Chicago has two games remaining (including tonight) and can finish anywhere from the top seed in the Central to the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks head to St. Louis looking to avoid a third straight loss.
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen is day-to-day with an upper body injury following a hit from Ryan Reaves on Sunday. Chicago is also without Brad Richards (upper body) for the remainder of the season. Patrick Kane (clavicle) is skating with the team, but has yet to be cleared for a return.
St. Louis can clinch home ice in the first round with a win tonight. A Blues victory coupled with a Predators regulation loss against the Wild would win St. Louis the Central Division on Thursday. The Blues are looking for their second Central Division crown in four seasons.
The Blues will be without Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) who was injured Sunday night in Chicago. Additionally, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko are expected to miss the contest due to lower body injuries.
St. Louis enters tonight’s action one point up on Nashville and three points ahead of Chicago.
Not the news St. Louis wanted to hear — on Wednesday, the club confirmed that leading goalscorer Vladimir Tarasenko is out with a lower-body injury, sustained during Monday’s 4-1 loss to Vancouver.
Tarasenko, who sits tied for fifth in the NHL with 36 goals, didn’t practice today and appears unlikely to suit up for Thursday’s home date against Calgary. The Russian sniper’s injury comes at a bad time for the Blues — the club is just 1-3-2 in its last six games and, with 99 points, is in danger of being passed in the Central by third-place Chicago (98 points, with six games left) and current wild card holder Minnesota (95 points, with six games left).
There is a silver lining to the injury, though, in that it creates a roster spot for AHL Chicago sniper Ty Rattie. The AHL’s reigning player of the week — he had seven points in three games — Rattie has 42 points in 59 games this year and looks as though he’s on his way to St. Louis. PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban was at Wolves practice on Wednesday and confirmed Rattie was pulled off the ice, presumably so he could be shipped off to the Blues.
Update: Blues made the Rattie recall official. Also, head coach Ken Hitchcock said that Tarasenko (and fellow injured forward Alex Steen) are both day-to-day, and will be ready for the playoffs.
A regulation or overtime win tonight over the visiting Vancouver Canucks will give the St. Louis Blues a spot in the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
And to help their chances, forward T.J. Oshie will return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Columbus with the flu.
Alex Steen, however, is out after getting hurt versus the Jackets.
Even with just one win in their last five, the Blues still have a reasonable shot at catching Nashville and winning the Central Division. But per Sports Club Stats, their most likely first-round opponent is Chicago.
St. Louis Blues’ forward Alex Steen left tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets after playing four shifts in the first period.
According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Steen collided knee-on-knee with Blue Jackets’ defenseman Cody Goloubef with 11:30 left in first period and left the game.
The 31-year-old has 24 goals and 62 points in 73 games this season while averaging 20:14 in ice time.