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Game Day Preview #68, St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings

Did you know the Blues are 1-7-2? Please think about those stats for a moment.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: St. Louis Blues (35-27-5) @ Los Angeles Kings (37-25-5)

Game Time: 1:00 PM, FS-W, NHLN

For the first time all season, the Kings are working with their full lineup. A rotating slate of injuries kept the team from playing all of its available players; the beginning of the season saw both Alec Martinez and Marian Gaborik out, and then, of course, there was Jeff Carter. With Carter back, and Trevor Lewis not only back, but back and scoring goals—

— well, the whole gang’s back together, and just in time, too.

The slowly spiraling St. Louis Blues are in town, in a matchup that has big playoff implications for both teams.

Despite the surprise sort-of-sellers trade of Paul Stastny at the deadline, and now the season shut-down of the injured Jay Bouwmeester, the Blues are hanging around just close enough to the wild card position as to still be a threat.

Of course, they’d have to go on quite the tear to do it — they’re 1-7-2 in their last ten and their offense has absolutely disappeared. They’ve been shut out three times in that span, including Thursday in San Jose. Their lone win came against the Detroit Red Wings, and it was a win in which they got massively out-shot (36-25) and rode another tremendous performance from back-up Carter Hutton to victory.

The Blues had no problem with turning to Hutton when they struggled, but Hutton is currently dealing with an injury, so he’s not available for today’s game. So, Allen it is. And while Jake Allen’s struggles have been magnified as the Blues have collapsed down the stretch, the Blues’ woes can’t be put entirely on him.

Allen was stellar against San Jose, for example, but got absolutely no support from his team. The Blues mustered an embarrassing 16 shots over the whole game. The Sharks put 15 shots on net in the third period alone. While Brayden Schenn is putting up another strong season, and while Vladimir Tarasenko is still a nightmare to face, the offense from the rest of the team is just not there.

In an effort to pry any scoring out of his team, coach Mike Yeo mixed up his lines in yesterday’s practice, putting Schenn, Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, the team’s three leading scorers, back together. So, watch out for that.

With a healthy lineup and another win under their belt, it’s unlikely that the Kings change anything about their lineup that faces the Capitals on Thursday. John Stevens did make some small switches in-game, including shifts where Carter and Amadio switched spots, but nothing out of practice seems to indicate that we’ll see any major differences.

The Kings stuck to their game plan against the Capitals. The whole affair was fairly low-event hockey, and while the Capitals pressed in the second period (13-9 shot advantage), overall the Kings limited the shots that Jonathan Quick had to stop up close.

Every game is the same story, but, if they could just play like that? All the time? They would be so good?

Despite the Blues’ struggles to put pucks in net, they’re still an aggressive, physical team. If Jake Allen plays like he did in San Jose, this could be a very frustrating game to watch. Chances are, this isn’t going to be a 5-4 barnburner. This game is two big teams fighting for their postseasons, backstopped by a set of goalies, who, at their best, could see that this game remains a very low scoring affair.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Kempe - Amadio - Lewis
Clifford - Thompson - Mitchell

Forbort - Doughty
Phaneuf - Martinez
Muzzin - Folin

Quick
(Campbell)

St. Louis Blues

Schwartz - Schenn - Tarasenko
Sobotka - Brodziak - Berglund
Soshnikov - Sobotka - Jaskin
Thorburn - Barbashev - Thompson

Gunnarsson - Pietrangelo
Dunn - Parayko
Schmaltz - Bortuzzo

Allen
(Husso)

Opposing Preview: St. Louis Game Time