After enshrining franchise greats Brett Hull, Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis, and 11 other legends into their newly formed Hall of Fame, the St. Louis Blues lost a tough game to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 14. The Blues led briefly in the first after a Tyler Pitlick (2) wrister opened the scoring, but two goals by Brayden Point put the Bolts up 2-1 to end the period. The lead never changed hands after that, and the game ended in a 4-2 loss.
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Pavel Buchnevich (15) scored the team’s second and final goal, while the Blues had three power-play opportunities but failed to cash in (4 shots). This was their second loss in a row as they now stand at 21-20-3 (45 points), good for fifth in the Central Division.
For game four of their season-long seven-game homestand, the Blues will host St. Louis-native Brady Tkachuk and the Ottawa Senators (19-20-3, 41 points), who are fresh off a disheartening 7-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 14 Coming into this matchup, both teams have matching records, the Blues are 8-10-2 at home, while the Senators are 8-10-2 on the road. The two teams split the season series in 2021-22 (1-1-0), but the Blues lead the all-time series (20-14-2-4).
St. Louis Blues Projected Lineup
Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou
Brandon Saad – Brayden Schenn – Ivan Barbashev
Jake Neighbours – Noel Acciari – Josh Levio
Alexey Toropchenko – Nikita Alexandrov – Tyler Pitlick
Nick Leddy – Colton Parayko
Niko Mikkola – Justin Faulk
Tyler Tucker – Calle Rosen
Tarasenko Nearing Return
Forward Vladimir Tarasenko was seen practicing with the team on Sunday. After being placed on injured reserve (IR) on Jan. 2 with a hand injury, his initial timeline for return was four weeks, pending a re-evaluation. However, Lou Korac, Blues reporter for NHL.com and SI.com, posted a video showing Tarasenko taking part in a full practice on Jan. 15.
According to head coach Craig Berube, Tarasenko’s return to the lineup will be sooner than anticipated: “He was skating well, shooting a little bit, which is a good sign. He’s closer than we’re thinking. He looks good.” He won’t be in the lineup against Ottawa but might be able to play during this homestand. He has 29 points in 34 games this season and was selected to represent the Blues at the 2023 All-Star Game. In his absence, the team has a record of 4-3-0.
NHL Deadline Prepping
With the 2022-23 season now officially beyond the halfway point, NHL scouts are being scattered throughout the league to prepare for the trade deadline on Mar. 3. THW’s Mike Meyer reported that the Blues had scouts in attendance at the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blues Jackets game on Jan. 14. It’s unclear what path the Blues will take, whether they’re going to try for one last Cup run with this core or sell some pieces to retool.
Ottawa Senators Projected Lineup
Brady Tkachuk – Tim Stutzle – Drake Batherson
Alex Debrincat – Shane Pinto – Claude Giroux
Parker Kelly – Dylan Gambrell – Mathieu Joseph
Jake Lucchini – Mark Kastelic – Austin Watson
Thomas Chabot – Jacob Bernard-Docker
Jake Sanderson – Travis Hamonic
Erik Brannstrom – Nick Holden
Sen’s Prospect Recalled
The Senators recalled 22-year-old rookie defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker from the Belleville Senators, their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. He’ll take the roster spot of defenseman Artem Zub, who was injured during their 7-0 loss to the Avalanche. He’s played in nine NHL games this season, totaling one point, 11 hits, 14 blocks, and seven penalty minutes (PIM). In 13 AHL games, he’s scored two points and 10 PIM. He’s known for being a physical defender and quality penalty killer. He was ranked Ottawa’s number four prospect coming into the 2022-23 season by NHL.com.
Players to Watch
St. Louis Blues: Pavel Buchnevich
With a goal in the loss to Tampa Bay, Pavel Buchnevich has at least one point in seven of his last eight games, and he’s been held pointless only three times since the beginning of December – 18 games. In the seven games since Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly were placed on IR, he’s scored nine points (three goals, six assists). Despite missing eight games this season, he’s second on the team in goals (15) and third in points (37). Being on a line with Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, he’s sure to get his fair share of scoring chances tonight against a vulnerable opponent in the Senators.
Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk
Any time one of the Tkachuk brothers is on the ice in St. Louis, they’re going to be the player to watch. Brady, the Senator’s captain, is having another solid season despite the team’s overall struggles. He’s one of eight Senators regulars who have played in all 42 games. His 26 assists and 41 points lead the club – as does his 49 PIM. His 15 goals tie him for second on the team as well, three behind Tim Steutzle.
How to Watch
The Blues and Senators will faceoff tonight in St. Louis, MO, at 7:00 PM CST. Blues fans can watch the game on Bally Sports and Bally Sports+. For those who prefer to listen, the broadcast can be heard on 101 ESPN and the Blues App.
Marcus Ashpaugh is a team writer at THW, focusing on the St. Louis Blues organization. He enjoys writing about the team at the NHL level as well as the prospects within the organization.