The St. Louis Blues are at home for the first time in a week and set to face off against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday for the first of back-to-back games between the two teams. The Blues’ recent road trip at the Minnesota Wild was a success, taking five of six available points, but ended on a tough 4-3 overtime loss that saw the Wild tie the game up in the final minute of the third period. The Blues look to get back on track versus the Ducks as it looks to potentially secure the final playoff spot in the West Division this week.
St. Louis has shown signs of its 2019 success in recent games, with all players buying in and playing their roles effectively with maximum effort. Going 2-0-1 last week against a Minnesota team that entered the three-game series on a seven-game win streak was an impressive feat and proved that the Blues are capable of competing with the league’s top clubs. Unfortunately, the series ended with a loss for St. Louis, but now matched up against Anaheim, the weakest team in the West, the Blues have an opportunity to take advantage of a struggling club and get itself back on another hot streak.
Currently sitting three points above the Arizona Coyotes with three games in hand, the final playoff spot in the West is St. Louis’ to lose. Taking these next two games against the Ducks would be huge for the Blues and could possibly guarantee them a ticket to the 2021 NHL Playoffs. If St. Louis keeps up its dominant play from recent games, Anaheim, who have only won 16 of 52 games this season, should be a breeze for them. In saying that, if the Blues take the Ducks too lightly, there is a chance this great opportunity backfires on them.
Jordan Binnington and John Gibson are expected to start in net for St. Louis and Anaheim, respectively. Binnington is coming off two sub-.900 save percentage (SV%) games in a row, but looked strong in net in the Blues’ overtime loss to the Wild. Hopefully, he can build on that 34-save performance and get his team right back into the win column against the Ducks.
Gibson has been strong for Anaheim lately, with .920 SV% and .933 SV% games in his two most recent starts, going 1-1-0 against the Los Angeles Kings. Maintaining pressure in the Ducks’ zone and getting plenty of pucks on goal will be keys for St. Louis to shut down the Anaheim netminder and shake him off his game. His most recent start against the Blues was a .971 SV% performance on March 26, a 4-1 win for the Ducks, so it could be a long night for St. Louis if it can’t find the back of the net early.
The puck drops at Enterprise Center on Monday at 7:00 p.m. CT.
As per NHL.com, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Ducks is as follows:
Brayden Schenn – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron
Jaden Schwartz – Tyler Bozak – Vladimir Tarasenko
Mike Hoffman – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou
Zach Sanford – Ivan Barbashev – Sammy Blais
Marco Scandella – Justin Faulk
Jake Walman – Colton Parayko
Niko Mikkola – Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Mackenzie MacEachern, Steven Santini
Injured: Torey Krug (upper body), Vince Dunn (upper body)