Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the St. Louis Blues have another regulation defeat. This time, it was at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 8 by a score of 5-1. In the loss, they were defeated by backup goalie Felix Sandstrom, who stopped 27 of 28 shots on his way to his first career NHL victory. The Blues’ lone goal was scored by Ryan O’Reilly in the third period. As a result, they remain in the cellar of the Western Conference at 3-8-0 and just six points.
Losers of eight straight, captain Ryan O’Reilly is running out of answers for why he and his teammates are struggling this much. “I’m supposed to lead this team and I’m not doing nearly enough… Other guys too. It was a lot more that needs to be done. I don’t have an answer for you right now, I just know what I’m doing isn’t working.”
The good news for the Blues (3-8-0, six points) is that another struggling team is on the schedule for tonight’s matchup in the San Jose Sharks (3-8-3, nine points). They come in having lost four games in a row, although three straight have come in the form of a shootout loss. After making some roster moves, the Blues will have a fresh face in the lineup tonight as 22-year-old Nikita Alexandrov makes his NHL debut.
Latest News & Highlights
St. Louis Blues Projected Lineup
Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Vladimir Tarasenko
Brandon Saad – Ryan O’Reilly – Josh Leivo
Ivan Barbashev – Brayden Schenn – Jordan Kyrou
Nikita Alexandrov – Noel Acciari – Tyler Pitlick
Nick Leddy – Colton Parayko
Torey Krug – Justin Faulk
Calle Rosen – Niko Mikkola
Jordan Binnington – Thomas Greiss
Bortuzzo Headed to IR
The injury bug has bitten another Blues defenseman. In addition to yesterday’s flurry of roster moves, veteran defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was placed on the injured reserve (IR) today with an upper-body injury. In 10 games this season, he hasn’t registered a point, but scoring is not really his game. He’s a stay-at-home defenseman who has been one of this team’s main penalty killers. He also recorded his first fight of the season in their loss to the Flyers.
In a corresponding move, left-handed defenseman Tyler Tucker was recalled from the Springfield Thunderbirds. Now 22 years old, Tucker was the Blues’ seventh-round pick (200th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. This season, he’s recorded one goal and six assists in 11 games at the American Hockey League (AHL) level. He likely won’t be making his NHL debut tonight, but that should come within the next few games.
San Jose Sharks Projected Lineup
Timo Meier – Tomas Hertl – Kevin Labanc
Matthew Nieto – Logan Couture – Alexander Barabanov
Oskar Lindblom – Nico Sturm – Luke Kunin
Evgeny Svechnikov – Nick Bonino – Noah Gregor
Jaycob Megna – Erik Karlsson
Matt Benning – Mario Ferraro
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Radim Simek
Kaapo Kahkonen – James Reimer
Quick Look at the Sharks
While their season hasn’t gotten off to as bad of a start, the San Jose Sharks have had struggles of their own. With nine points, they are tied with the Anaheim Ducks for last place in the Pacific Division. Longtime All-Star defenseman Brent Burns was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes last summer, ending his 11-year run with the club. His departure has seemingly led to Erik Karlsson‘s resurgence.
A two-time Norris Trophy winner, Karlsson’s start to the 2022-23 season has been historic. In 14 games, the 32-year-old has scored 19 points (ten goals, nine assists), with seven of those coming on the power play (one goal, six assists). His 19 points and ten goals lead all defensemen in both categories.
Outside of Karlsson, the team is led offensively by the trio of Timo Meier (11 points), Tomas Hertl (11 points), and Logan Couture (8 points). Their third line also features St. Louis native and former division rival Luke Kunin. In his most recent game against the Blues last season as a member of the Nashville Predators, he recorded both a goal and an assist. In all, he’s totaled two goals and two assists in his career against his hometown team.
Players to Watch
St. Louis Blues: Nikita Alexandrov
As I mentioned earlier, Nikita Alexandrov will be making his NHL debut tonight, getting the start at left wing on the fourth line. He, along with forward Josh Leivo, were recalled from the AHL when the Blues announced yesterday that Jake Neighbours was being reassigned to Springfield and Logan Brown was headed to the injured reserve. Alexandrov was one of the last cuts the team made at the end of the preseason, so it seemed logical that his name would have been called at some point to supplement the Blues’ roster. In nine AHL games this season, the former second-round pick has logged four goals and four assists.
San Jose Sharks: Erik Karlsson
Even though enough has already been said about Karlsson, he’s still the prime choice to be the Sharks’ player to watch for tonight. The Blues have been awful on the penalty kill this season (70.8%), while Karlsson excels on the power play. If they find themselves taking too many penalties tonight, it’s likely going to lead to at least one point for the Swedish defenseman. He’s scored at least one point in five straight games coming into tonight’s match.
Where You Can Catch the Game
San Jose Sharks @ St. Louis Blues – 7:00 pm CDT
The Blues will battle against the Sharks tonight at 7:00 PM CDT. You can watch the game on Bally Sports Midwest and Bally Sports+. If you’re unable to watch, you can hear the call live 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.