Game Preview: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues


Crunch time, folks.

Yesterday’s 2-1 loss against the Ducks marked the beginning of arguably the most difficult stretch of the season. Tonight the Minnesota Wild venture to St. Louis for the second half of another back-to-back in the month of March.

Despite Minnesota playing its best hockey of the season since the All-star break, they are still only separated by 3 points in the Western Conference. From here until mid-April, the Wild could either slip out of the playoffs or climb a few spots in the standings over the next month depending on how they play.

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The going won’t get any easier against the Blues who are one of a couple teams in the NHL with 91 points. Sitting at 43-19-5, St. Louis is in contention with the Ducks and Predators for the top seed in the Western Conference and the Presidents’ Trophy as the top regular season team in the NHL.

I’m curious to see if Chris Stewart turns on the killer instinct this evening against his former team. He was a piece of the blockbuster that sent Ryan Miller to St. Louis last year and him to the hapless Buffalo Sabres. Sure it’s a business, and the Blues needed a goalie, but Stewart got jobbed going from a Cup contender to a tanking Buffalo squad.

It hasn’t been announced yet, but I believe Devan Dubnyk will get his 27th consecutive start. It doesn’t seem like he’s getting tired at all even with his insane workload since he arrived in Minnesota. If he indeed does start tonight, I’d guess that the Wild will ride his coattail all the way through the regular season. Mike Yeo doesn’t have much of a choice with everyone and their brother nipping at their heels for one of the final few playoff spots.

St. Louis has a rockstar lineup, but look no further than Vladimir Tarasenko if you want to see a budding superstar. The former 16th overall pick in the 2010 draft has certainly come of age this year scoring 66 points and piling up a number of highlight reel goals. He shares the ice with Jaden Schwartz and Jori Lehtera to make up one of the most consistent and electric lines in the NHL this year.

Brian Elliot will get the nod for the Blues tonight.

He’s done about what you can ask of him playing behind a stellar set of blue liners. He’s not a Vezina candididate, but he’s certainly capable of delivering shutting down the Wild’s offense like John Gibson did last night.

Here is a complete look at the pairings if the playoffs started today:

Here are your lines for this evening:


Parise – Granlund – Pominville

Niederreiter – Koivu – Stewart

Vanek – Coyle – Fontaine

Bergenheim – Haula – Brodziak


Porter – Backes – Oshie

Schwartz – Lehtera – Tarasenko

Steen – Stastny – Jaskin

Ott – Goc – Reaves