Blues Gameday Preview: Detroit Red Wings -12/09/21

The St. Louis Blues look to avenge a 4-2 loss against their former rival, the Detroit Red Wings as they square off for the final time this season at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. The Blues are currently being held together by duct tape, band-aids, and prayers as they hope to play another 60 minutes tonight and leave unscathed and healthy.

Let’s take a look at the storylines heading into tonight’s matchup.

2 Storylines: Blues (13-8-4)

The Blues Are Playing Shorthanded For Second Straight Game

The Blues are forced to play a man short once more as the team has been at the NHL’s salary cap all season with little to no flexibility. After the team pulled off an unlikely overtime victory over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night, many thought that reinforcements may be coming. However, as the team lost not one, but two players that game due to injury, they are forced once again to juggle salary cap and Collective Bargaining Agreement regulations. During the game, goaltender Ville Husso left during the third period, and the team lost defenseman Jake Walman to injury as well.

Related: 3 Blues Who Need to Step Up Their Game

The Blues were able to call up Nathan Walker from the Springfield Thunderbirds under emergency conditions, but were forced to sign goaltender Jon Gilles to serve as a backup goaltender for tonight’s game.

“For cap issues, both of our remaining goalies, because of their contracts where their bonuses take them slightly over $850,000, we had to sign somebody that’s making $850,000 or less, so Gillies is playing in the American Hockey League on an AHL contract, so we signed him,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “He’ll be in (St. Louis) tonight and be ready to partner tomorrow with (Charlie) Lindgren and we’ll just take it day by day from there to where Ville is and we’re hoping to get Binnington back early to late next week.”

Blues Still Winning Despite Injuries

The Blues will play host to the Red Wings tonight for the first and only time this season looking to defend their five-game home winning streak. This season, the club boasts an 8-3-1 at the Enterprise Center with a plus-14 goal differential. As injuries, COVID-19, and salary cap complications have been thrown in the team’s way this season, the club has done everything and more to help weather the situation.

2 Storylines: Red Wings (13-10-3)

Youth Leading Red Wings’ Rebuild

It has been a long time coming for Dylan Larkin to receive some much needed support amongst the forward corps and he has finally received some aid. This season, rookies Lucas Raymond, Mortiz Seider and Alex Nedeljkovic have entered the picture and are all considered to be early season Calder Trophy favorites (from ‘2021-22 NHL Awards Watch: Who’s leading for Hart, Norris, Vezina, Selke, Calder?’ ESPN, Dec. 3, 2021). Raymond currently leads Detroit in scoring with 10 goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season, while Seider is fourth on the roster with three goals, 15 assists in 26 games as well. Nedeljkovic is currently leading all rookie goaltenders with eight wins through his first 15 games started, and ranked 19th overall in netminders around the NHL, one position ahead of Blues starting goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Red Wings On A Roll

In their last six games, the Red Wings have a 5-1 record that began with a 4-2 victory over the Blues on Nov. 24. In those six games, Detroit has a combined 16 points totaled between forwards Larkin and Pius Suter, as well as defenseman rookie sensation Seider.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The club has a 4-7-1 road record this season and could look to add another tally to the win column tonight against the shorthanded Blues squad. Away from Detroit, the Red Wings have a minus-16 goal differential, compared to a plus-5 at home.

Players to Watch

St. Louis: Forward Brandon Saad comes into the game tonight with a three-game goal streak and four points in his last five games. With five of the Blues forwards currently sidelined, Saad has seen a shift to the top line with Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan O’Reilly.

Detroit: Goaltender Nedeljkovic is 4-1 in his last five games with a .926 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average, ranking sixth in the NHL during that timespan.

Projected Line Combinations

St. Louis Blues

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Brandon SaadRyan O’ReillyJordan Kyrou
Pavel BuchnevichIvan BarbashevVladimir Tarasenko
Logan BrownBrayden SchennOskar Sundqvist
Nathan WalkerDakota Joshua
Left DefenseRight Defense
Niko MikkolaColton Parayko
Torey KrugScott Perunovich
Marco ScandellaRobert Bortuzzo
Starting Goalie
Charlie Lindgren

Detroit Red Wings

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Robby FabbriDylan LarkinLucas Raymond
Joe VelenoPius SuterFilip Zadina
Vladislav NamestnikovMichael RasmussenAdam Erne
Givani SmithCarter RowneySam Gagner
Left DefenseRight Defense
Danny DeKeyserMoritz Seider
Nick LeddyFilip Hronek
Jordan OesterleDaniel Renouf
Starting Goalie
Alex Nedeljkovic

Blues’ Next Game: Saturday Nov. 11 versus Montreal Canadiens (6 PM CST)

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