Wild at Blues preview: St. Louis looks to close out regular-season strong

St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues close out their regular-season on Thursday versus the Minnesota Wild. On Wednesday, the first of back-to-back matchups against the Wild, the Blues got their first shutout of the season with a 31-save performance from Ville Husso, helping lead the team to a 4-0 win. They’ll look to repeat that success in their final game of the regular-season before taking on the Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs, beginning on Monday.

St. Louis has had a very up-and-down season and ended up in a very tightly-contested race with the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks for the final playoff spot in the West Division. In the end, the Blues managed to come out on top with some great wins over strong clubs, including the Golden Knights, Avalanche and Wild. St. Louis proved they deserve to be in the postseason this year, but the question remains how far they are able to go.

Thursday’s game against the Wild is the Blues’ final chance to build momentum heading into their first-round matchup. St. Louis’ offense has died down in recent games and will need to be re-ignited to give them a chance at taking down a powerhouse in the Golden Knights or Avalanche, who are ranked first and second in the NHL, respectively. A Blues victory on Thursday would send them to the postseason on a three-game winning streak.

Expected to start in net are Jordan Binnington for St. Louis and Kaapo Kahkonen for Minnesota. Binnington has a .911 save percentage (SV%) through 40 starts and 41 games played this season, while the rookie Kahkonen has a .908 SV% in 22 games and 23 games.

The puck drops at Enterprise Center on Wednesday at 7:00 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

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

Scratched: Tyler Bozak

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