Surging Blues Need Win for Playoff Hopes & Will Get It in Sin City

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 29, 2018 4:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 29, 2018 4:29 PM UTC

It’s a potential first-round Stanley Cup playoff preview Friday night (10:30 ET) when St. Louis visits Vegas – if the Blues make the postseason, that is.

St. Louis (91 points) at Vegas (103 points)Free NHL Pick: BluesBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3216986, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,169,1275,180], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Six games on Friday’s NHL slate with the latest puck drop of 10:30 p.m. ET coming from Sin City as the St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights face off for the final time this season – if they don’t play in the first round of the playoffs, that is. More on that shortly.

These teams have split two meetings. On Oct. 21, the Blues perhaps were infected with the “Vegas flu” in a 3-2 overtime loss at T-Mobile Arena. William Karlsson scored at 4:36 of OT, with Reilly Smith and Colin Miller scoring in regulation. Malcolm Subban stopped 37 shots for the Knights but had to leave about midway through the third and was replaced by Oscar Dansk making his NHL debut. Jake Allen had 19 saves for the Blues.

On Jan. 4 in St. Louis, the Blues prevailed 2-1. Paul Statsny, since traded to Winnipeg, scored the tiebreaking goal at 5:59 of the third. Carter Hutton had 32 saves, while Marc-Andre Fleury was a tough-luck loser with 37 stops as his team’s eight-game winning streak at the time ended.

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

Blues In Playoff Dogfight

This game doesn’t mean quite as much for Vegas, which already has clinched a playoff spot to become only the sixth expansion team to reach the playoffs in its inaugural season in the four major US sports since 1960 (not counting teams that came from another league via merger). That said, the Golden Knights still have yet to clinch the Pacific Division. There’s also an outside shot of landing the No. 1 seed in the West, but that looks solidly in Nashville’s grasp.

The West’s final two wild-card spots are going to come down to Los Angeles/Anaheim (whichever doesn’t finish third in the Pacific), St. Louis and Colorado. As of this writing, the Golden Knights would face the Blues in the first round of the playoffs. The remaining schedule for St. Louis is: Saturday at Arizona, Monday vs. Washington, April 4 vs. Chicago, April 6 at Chicago and April 7 at Colorado. The Coyotes and Blackhawks have squat to play for. That last game of the season vs. the Avalanche could be a postseason play-in game.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

CBJ – 10 games ❌
SJS – 8 games ❌#AllTogetherNowSTL

— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 28, 2018

The Blues are surging at the right time, winners of six straight and eight of nine despite dealing Statsny, one of their best forwards, to the Jets at the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Blues had one come-from-behind win between Nov. 18 and March 17 but now have done it four times in 11 days.

Even though Blues backup goalie Carter Hutton leads the NHL in GAA (2.02) and save percentage (.934), Allen has been playing exclusively since March 8. This month, he’s 8-2-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .926 save percentage and was the league’s second star of last week. Vladimir Tarasenko is carrying the team offensively of late with four goals in the past three games. He has reached 30 goals for a fourth straight year, the first Blue to do that since Brett Hull did it in six straight seasons from 1989-1994.

Vegas, meanwhile, perhaps was still celebrating its playoff berth as it lost as a -230 home favorite Wednesday to Arizona, 3-2. Winger David Perron (16G, 50A) missed the game with an undisclosed injury. The Knights had been near invincible at home for months but have dropped five of their past eight there. Vegas is just 7-6-3 in its past 15 overall and 1-4 in its past five vs. teams with a winning record. Thus, take the surging Blues for a Friday NHL pick.

comment here