Blues at Golden Knights preview: Second chance for St. Louis playoff clinch

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 13: (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 13: (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday with a second chance to lock up the final playoff spot in the West Division after falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. If the Blues can secure at least one point more than the Los Angeles Kings, who host the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, they will officially clinch a playoff berth. With just five games remaining in St. Louis’ regular-season, it would be a relief for them to get their worries out of the way on Friday and start looking toward to the postseason.

If the Blues do indeed qualify for this year’s playoffs, there is a good chance they will face off against the Golden Knights, who currently rank as the top team in the West, in the first round later this month. St. Louis enters Friday’s matchup with a 5-3-2 record over their past 10 games, while Vegas is 8-2-0. The Golden Knights have a four-point lead on the Avalanche and don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The Blues need to find a way to take down a streaking Vegas team and prove that they are ready to go to battle with them again later this month, if it comes to that.

St. Louis offense, particularly Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Mike Hoffman and Brayden Schenn, will need to show just how good they are against another one of the league’s best clubs. If the Blues plan on making a deep playoff run, they will need to get past the Golden Knights (or another team capable of getting past them) at some point. Vegas has the least goals against (118) in the NHL, so St. Louis’ forwards will need to come out firing on all cylinders if they hope to take down the Golden Knights.

Jordan Binnington and Robin Lehner are expected to start in net for St. Louis and Vegas, respectively. Binnington is coming off two strong starts against the Ducks, which saw him post a .950 save percentage (SV%) on Monday and .943 SV% on Wednesday. On the other end of the ice, Lehner is coming off a rocky game against the Minnesota Wild on Monday, allowing six goals on 32 shots (.813 SV%). Both goaltenders are likely to bring their A-games on Friday as their teams face off in a crucial, high-stakes matchup.

The puck drops at T-Mobile Arena on Friday at 9:00 p.m. CT.

As per, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Golden Knights is as follows:

Brayden Schenn – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron

Jaden Schwartz – Tyler Bozak – Zach Sanford

Mike Hoffman – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou

Kyle Clifford – Ivan Barbashev – Mackenzie MacEachern

Marco Scandella – Justin Faulk

Niko Mikkola – Colton Parayko

Jake Walman – Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

Scratched: Steven Santini

Injured: Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body), Torey Krug (upper body), Vince Dunn (upper body), Sammy Blais (upper body)