Wild at Blues preview: Klim Kostin to make season debut for St. Louis

St. Louis Blues center Klim Kostin (37)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues center Klim Kostin (37)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues’ regular-season is winding down with only two games remaining, both at home versus the Minnesota Wild. The first of back-to-back matchups between the two teams takes place on Wednesday and will come with some excitement for Blues fans as Klim Kostin is set to make his season debut after winning the Gagarin Cup with the Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) last month.

Kostin played four games with St. Louis last season, his only games in the NHL so far, recording a goal and five shots on net. A six-foot-three power forward, he will add size and strength to the Blues’ lineup ahead of their playoff run after a year of play in the KHL. With Omsk this season, Kostin posted five goals and four assists in 24 postseason games; seven goals and 11 assists in 43 regular-season games. The 22-year-old is likely to suit up alongside Mike Hoffman and Robert Thomas on Wednesday.

Other players to watch for on Wednesday include Ryan O’Reilly and Justin Faulk for St. Louis; Kirill Kaprizov for Minnesota. O’Reilly is looking to reignite his team after going a mediocre 2-1-2 in their last five games. He leads the Blues with two goals over that span, which tells the tale of St. Louis’ recent offensive woes. Helping make up for the recent lack of scoring, Justin Faulk has led the way for the Blues with a team-leading six points and five assists in his last five games. He’ll look to continue that trend against a strong Wild side.

St. Louis will need to keep their eyes on Kaprizov, who has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last five games. The 24-year-old rookie is on fire right now, and the Blues need to put him out. Strong, smart plays in the defensive zone will be key for St. Louis to ensure Kaprizov, or any of the Wild players for that matter, can’t take advantage of poor turnovers around the Blues’ net.

Starting in net are Ville Husso for St. Louis and Cam Talbot for Minnesota. Husso has a .886 save percentage (SV%) through 14 starts and 16 games played this season, while Talbot has a .916 SV% over 32 starts. Both Husso and Talbot are coming off sub-.900 SV% performances against the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks, respectively.

Also of note for Wednesday’s game, Blues defenceman Jake Walman is unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19 and Tyler Bozak is a scratch as he takes a day to rest.

The puck drops at Enterprise Center on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. CT.

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

Ivan Barbashev – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron

Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Jordan Kyrou

Klim Kostin – Robert Thomas – Mike Hoffman

Kyle Clifford – Zach Sanford – Mackenzie MacEachern

Torey Krug – Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella – Colton Parayko

Niko Mikkola – Robert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso

Jordan Binnington

Scratched: Tyler Bozak, Steven Santini

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

COVID 19 protocol: Jake Walman