Blues Gameday Preview: New York Islanders – 11-3-22

The hits just keep on coming for the St. Louis Blues. They dropped their fifth straight game on Halloween night to the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 5-1. It was a fittingly scary loss, going down 5-0 before Alexey Toropchenko mustered the Blues’ lone goal in the contest. Jordan Binnington was mercifully relieved halfway through the game after being hung out to dry by his defense, marking the first time this season he was pulled.

St. Louis Blues' Gameday Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Justin Faulk and Jordan Binnington
Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Justin Faulk, and Jordan Binnington (The Hockey Writers)

Now 3-5-0, the Blues sit last in the Central Division with six points and will do anything they can to get going again. They welcome the New York Islanders (6-4-0) to town tonight in hopes of scratching out their first victory in twelve days.

Blues’ Lineup

Forwards

Brayden Schenn – Ryan O’Reilly – Noel Acciari

Pavel Buchnevich – Ivan Barbashev – Vladimir Tarasenko

Jake Neighbours – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou

Alexey Toropchenko – Logan Brown – Tyler Pitlick

Defense

Torey Krug – Justin Faulk

Nick Leddy – Colton Parayko

Niko Mikkola – Robert Bortuzzo

Goalies

Jordan Binnington – Thomas Greiss


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Islanders’ Lineup

Forwards

Josh Bailey – Mathew Barzal – Oliver Wahlstrom

Anders Lee – Brock Nelson – Anthony Beauvillier

Zach Parise – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Kyle Palmieri

Ross Johnston – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck

Defense

Adam Pelech – Ryan Pulock

Alexander Romanov – Noah Dobson

Sebastian Aho – Scott Mayfield

Goalies

Ilya Sorokin – Semyon Varlamov

Related: Blues Stock Up, Stock Down: Binnington, Defense, Kyrou, & More

With a record of 6-4-0 and winners of four in a row, the Islanders are in a three-way tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division. They had an impressive 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 29 after trailing 3-0 in the second period and rattling off five unanswered goals. They’re led offensively by Brock Nelson (11 points), Anders Lee (11 points), and Mathew Barzal (10 points), while Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech remain the team’s stalwarts on defense.

Goaltender Ilya Sorokin has started the 2022-23 season on fire. He has a 4-3-0 record with a .935 save percentage (SV%) and a goals-against average (GAA) of just 2.04. In his last three starts (against the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Chicago Blackhawks), he’s given up just three goals, stopping 95 of 98 shots. His elite play is fueling the Islanders and has him in early conversations as a Vezina Trophy candidate.

St. Louis Blues: Ryan O’Reilly

Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly has been under scrutiny for his play this season. He’s gone so far as to blame himself for his team’s recent struggles: “I’ve been absolutely horrible right now. I’m not really doing anything. I’m kind of fighting for my life right now. I’ve got to fight to stay in this league, I guess, but I’ve got to do a lot more, leadership-wise, my own play. If I can do that, just that small thing, I think I can make a big difference. 

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Through eight games, he has just one point (1 goal) and a minus-11 rating. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, it’s imperative that he gets his game up to his standards – not just for the Blues but for himself and his next contract. With the lineup shuffling at practice, look for O’Reilly to be in the middle of everything tonight on the Blues’ top line.

New York Islanders: Anders Lee

I discussed this with my THW colleague Mike Fink. After giving me a handful of Islanders to watch, I settled on veteran forward Anders Lee based on where the Blues lack defensively. This is what Mike had to say about Lee:

“The best way I can sum up Anders Lee’s offensive game is he knows where his bread is buttered. A lot of his goals are in the slot or near the crease, and he finishes a lot of scoring chances (his typical stat line at the end of the year usually has 25 goals and 10 assists).”

Anders Lee New York Islanders
Anders Lee, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Blues have struggled to protect the front of the net recently. Lee is the type of player who gets most of his points around the crease and in the slot, so he should be the one to give the Blues’ defense a very difficult 60 minutes.

Puck Drop:

New York Islanders @ St. Louis Blues – 7:00 PM CST

The Blues and Islanders will face off tonight at 7:00 PM CST at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO. You can catch the game on Bally Sports and Bally Sports+. For those who wish to listen to the game, you can find it on 101 ESPN and the 101 ESPN app.

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