Blues Gameday Preview: New Jersey Devils – 1/5/23

With injuries to pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) veteran leaders Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, the St. Louis Blues are getting a potential preview over the next four-to-six weeks as to what the team may look like next season. In their first game sans O’Reilly and Tarasenko, the Blues pulled off a 6-5 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, improving their record to 18-17-3 (39 points).

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)

The rash of players heading to the injured reserve has forced a few veterans, notably Brayden Schenn and Brandon Saad, into more prominent roles. Both were up to the task against the Maple Leafs. Schenn recorded one goal (8), one assist, led the forwards in ice time (22:49), and had a team-high eight hits. Saad scored two goals (10), one of which came when the team was short-handed. The other two goals were credited to Jordan Kyrou (18) and Josh Leivo (4).

Next up for the Blues is a trip to the East Coast to take on the slumping New Jersey Devils (24-11-3), whose hot start to the 2022-23 season has since turned cold. Prior to Dec. 1, they were 19-4-0 and just behind the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference. Since Dec. 1, they’ve gone 5-7-3 in 15 games. The Blues will try to take advantage of a good-yet-struggling team to springboard them into 2023.

Related: Blues Must Watch Games in January 2023


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St. Louis Blues Projected Lineup

Forwards

Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou

Brandon Saad – Brayden Schenn – Ivan Barbashev

Jake Neighbours – Noel Acciari – Josh Leivo

Alexey Toropchenko – Nikita Alexandrov – Tyler Pitlick

Brayden Schenn St. Louis Blues
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Defense

Niko Mikkola – Colton Parayko

Nick Leddy – Justin Faulk

Calle Rosen – Robert Bortuzzo

Goalie

Jordan Binnington – Thomas Greiss

Blues Shuffle Defenders

The Blues made a roster move on Jan. 4, recalling right-handed defenseman Steven Santini from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. In 32 games in the AHL this season, he’s logged five points (two goals, three assists). The former second-round pick of the Devils has seen action in 119 NHL games, three of which came in 2020-21 with the Blues. He spent all of 2021-22 in the AHL, appearing in 66 games for the Thunderbirds. For now, he will serve as head coach Craig Berube’s seventh defenseman.

Steven Santini, St. Louis Blues
Steven Santini, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In a corresponding move, recently recalled rookie defenseman Tyler Tucker was reassigned to Springfield. He was recalled on Dec. 27 when Torey Krug was assigned to long-term injured reserve (LTIR). He didn’t appear in any games in his most recent recall, but saw action in four NHL games in November. Reassigning him now allows the 22-year-old a chance to get more ice time and develop in Springfield rather than being a depth piece in St. Louis.

New Jersey Devils Projected Lineup

Forwards

Dawson Mercer – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt

Erik Haula – Jack Hughes – Tomas Tatar

Yegor Sharangovich – Jesper Boqvist – Fabian Zetterlund

Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Alexander Holtz

Jack Hughes New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Defense

Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves – Damon Severson

Brendan Smith – Kevin Bahl

Goalie

Mackenzie Blackwood – Vitek Vanecek

Players to Watch

St. Louis Blues: Jordan Kyrou

Along with Shenn and Saad, the aforementioned injuries to O’Reilly and Tarasenko are also going to force the Blues to lean more heavily on Jordan Kyrou. He scored a goal in their win over the Maple Leafs and now has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) over his last eight games. He leads the Blues in goals (18) and total points (37).

New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes

Even though the Devils have been struggling as a team from December until now, center Jack Hughes has been on fire. Over his last 18 games, he’s scored 15 goals and tallied eight assists, including one goal and one assist in their victory over the Detroit Red Wings last night (Jan. 4). For the season, his 44 points (22 goals, 22 assists) ties him for 10th overall in the NHL.

How to Catch the Game

The Blues and Devils will face-off tonight at 6:00 PM CT at the Prudential Center. Blues fans can watch the game on Bally Sports Midwest and Bally Sports+. Listeners will be able to hear the broadcast on 101 ESPN and the Blues App.

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