Avalanche at Blues preview: St. Louis looks to fix mistakes

Robert Thomas #18 and Tyler Bozak #21 of the St Louis Blues(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Robert Thomas #18 and Tyler Bozak #21 of the St Louis Blues(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche go to battle for the seventh time this season on Saturday in the second of three consecutive games between the two teams. Colorado has the upper hand in the season series with a 5-1-0 record against St. Louis. After the Blues fell 4-2 to the Avalanche on Thursday, expectations will be much higher as the team continues its hunt for the final playoff spot in the West Division.

St. Louis’ sloppy playmaking cost them the game against Colorado on Thursday. The Blues were about to head into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead when Zach Sanford made a weak pass up the middle of his own zone, turned the puck over to the Avalanche and allowed Brandon Saad to tie the game up at 1-1 with 31.1 seconds remaining in the period. Later on in the game, St. Louis would make another embarrassing mistake as Justin Faulk fumbled a pass in the Blues’ zone with just under half of the third period remaining, then leaving Andre Burakovsky wide-open in front for a one-timer to put the Avalanche up 3-1. If St. Louis wants a chance at beating Colorado on Saturday, plays like these cannot happen.

Another key to the game for the Blues will be goaltender Jordan Binnington’s performance. Expected to start on Saturday, Binnington has recorded three sub-.900 save percentage (SV%) games in a row after posting a .980 SV% and .960 SV% against the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild, respectively, in the two games prior. With the Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi still sidelined on the NHL’s COVID Protocols list, Binnington has another chance to take advantage of a weakened Colorado offense with two of its top four goal-scorers out of the lineup.

On the other end of the ice, Devan Dubnyk is expected to make his third start for the Avalanche. His first two games in a Colorado sweater came against the Blues, putting up .912 SV% and .926 SV% performances, securing the win in both starts. St. Louis will need to get the puck past him early to give themselves the best chance of shutting down the streaking goaltender.

Also of note, Blues forwards Robert Thomas and Mackenzie MacEachern return on Saturday after missing four and sixteen games, respectively, with upper-body injuries. Thomas will play in St. Louis’ lineup, while MacEachern will be a healthy scratch.

The puck drops at Enterprise Center on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. CT.

As per NHL.com, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Avalanche is as follows:

Sammy Blais – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron

Mike Hoffman – Brayden Schenn – Jordan Kyrou

Jaden Schwartz – Robert Thomas – Vladimir Tarasenko

Kyle Clifford – Tyler Bozak – Ivan Barbashev

Marco Scandella – Colton Parayko

Torey Krug – Justin Faulk

Jake Walman – Vince Dunn

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

Scratched: Zach Sanford, Robert Bortuzzo, Niko Mikkola, Mackenzie MacEachern

Injured: None