The Blues host the San Jose Sharks tonight in the battle of the bottom feeders. The Blues are the fifth-worst team in the Western Conference, while San Jose is the second-worst team, just one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks.
St. Louis will be mixing things up tonight, moving Alexei Toropchenko up to the top line with Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. While I certainly think Toropchenko could help that line when it comes to the forecheck and his speed should be a factor in regards to retrieving pucks in the offensive zone.
The second line will see Pavel Buchnevich move to the center position, sliding in between the speedsters, Kasperi Kapanen and Jakub Vrana. Buchnevich has been a point producing machine since the All-Star game. Posting 16 points in 10 games since, he'll look to add onto those numbers tonight while playings with some new linemates. Blues headcoach Craig Berube said this
when talking about the second line.
"A guy [Buchnevich] with his brains and his play-making ability, seeing the ice," Blues Head Coach Craig Berube said recently. "There's good potential there down the middle of the ice."
This means Brayden Schenn will move down to center a line of Brandon Saad and Sammy Blais. This is a heavy line that should be able to handle a lot of the defensive assignments tonight.
Josh Leivo draws back into the lineup, playing with Nathan Walker and Nikita Alexandrov on the fourth line.
Meanwhile the defense also will see a player jumping back into the line up, as Tyler Tucker will sit in favor of Calle Rosen. Rosen has been one of the few bright spots on the defensive core this season, as he's coming into tonights game with seven goals and eight assists. Career high numbers for the 29 year old.
Jordon Binnington is back between the pipes after getting shelled for 6 goals against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
This game is going to be a big one in regards to the race to the bottom of the standings. With a win tonight, the Blues would move out of a tie with Vancouver and Philadelphia. Meanwhile if San Jose wins, they would leap frog the Anaheim Ducks, giving them even lower odds at that highly coveted first overall draft pick.
With effectively no chance at finishing last in the league, the Blues needs to find ways to lose out on some points for a higher chance at winning the draft lottery. They have just 19 games left in the regular season, just how far can they drop down the ladder?
Toropchenko - Thomas - Kyrou
Vrana - Buchnevich - Kapanen
Saad - Schenn - Blais
Walker - Alexandrov - Leivo
Leddy - Parayko
Scandella - Faulk
Krug - Rosen