The St. Louis Blues are coming off back-to-back losses (one in overtime and one in regulation) to the Golden Knights entering Monday’s road game versus the Los Angeles Kings. The Blues are winless in their past three games and need to get back on track with only three games remaining in the regular-season. Facing off against the Kings, who rank seventh among the eight West Division teams, offers St. Louis an opportunity to turn their play around, set themselves up to finish the season strong and enter the postseason with some momentum.
Los Angeles enters Monday’s matchup after losing back-to-back games to the last-in-the-West Anaheim Ducks. Both the Blues and Kings have struggled as of late with records of 5-2-3 and 4-6-0, respectively, in their last 10 games. With St. Louis clinching the last available playoff spot in the division last week, Los Angeles is officially out of the postseason race. This game is meaningless for playoff positioning, but it is an important one for the Blues as they need to wake themselves back up before going to battle with the highly-skilled Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche later this month.
As always, the Blues will need to get their offense going right from puck-drop. Ryan O’Reilly (24 goals, 27 assists) and David Perron (16 goals, 35 assists) are tied for the team lead in points with 51 apiece. The Kings, on the other hand, have just one 50-point getter this season in Anze Kopitar (13 goals, 37 assists). St. Louis can’t expect to go far in the playoffs without strong forward production, so going up against a weaker side in Los Angeles gives them a chance to re-spark themselves on another hot run.
Jordan Binnington and Cal Petersen are expected to start in net for the Blues and Kings, respectively. After .950 save percentage (SV%) and .943 SV% games against the Ducks, Binnington allowed four goals on 35 shots (.886 SV%) in Vegas last Friday. He has been very up-and-down lately and needs to build some consistency in these final few matchups. On the other end of the ice, Petersen has only recorded a sub-.900 SV% once in five starts this month. St. Louis needs to dominate Los Angeles’ zone tonight and put plenty of pucks on goal to challenge the first-year starter.
The puck drops at Staples Center on Monday at 9:00 p.m. CT.
As per NHL.com, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Kings is as follows:
Ivan Barbashev – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron
Jaden Schwartz – Tyler Bozak – Brayden Schenn
Mike Hoffman – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou
Kyle Clifford – Dakota Joshua – Zach Sanford
Torey Krug – Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella – Colton Parayko
Jake Walman – Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Niko Mikkola, Mackenzie MacEachern, Steven Santini
Injured: Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body), Vince Dunn (upper body), Sammy Blais (upper body)