ST. LOUIS - Despite their recent struggles, the Blues have a great opportunity to turn things around tonight against the Calgary Flames (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).
In fact, with just one point tonight, the Blues can clinch a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season and 39th time in franchise history.
“We’re very fortunate to have that opportunity in front of us, especially with the amount of games we have left,” said Jake Allen, who will start tonight for the Blues. “We need to create some momentum starting at home, and tonight is a great opportunity for us. Create some momentum, get the ball rolling for the playoffs and clinch a playoff spot.”
The Blues can also clinch if the Los Angeles Kings lose in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers, but the club would rather focus on what it can control.
“(We need to) focus on good team play, focus on being mentally ready to play and battle,” said Olli Jokinen. “Every team we play needs points, they’re not any different than us. There’s less room and space out there.
“Just focus on tonight. You can’t lose your focus and start thinking about who we’re going to play in the playoffs. You’ve got to focus on the task ahead and that’s the only thing that’s been a little bit off. Gotta to get the focus back and try to get two points tonight against a very good hockey club.”
Getting two points tonight won’t be easy. The Flames are third in the Pacific division with 91 points and sit just three points ahead of the Kings.
“They wait for you to make mistakes,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Flames. “When you make mistakes, they make you pay.”
With Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko sidelined with lower-body injuries, Hitchcock is forced to make significant changes to tonight’s lineup.
“I’m part curious and really excited to see how this looks,” Hitchcock said of his new lines. “It was dynamic yesterday at practice, different than anything we’ve done. It was packed with energy, so we’ll see. We’re going to have to play a few games like this (due to injury.) It’s not a big deal. It’s going to give other guys a chance.”
Here is tonight’s projected lineup and of course, is subject to change.
Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - T.J. Oshie
Dmitrij Jaskin - David Backes - Patrik Berglund
Olli Jokinen - Jori Lehtera - Ty Rattie
Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Zbynek Michalek - Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman - Robert Bortuzzo
RATTIE CALLED UP
Ty Rattie, who was recalled from the Chicago Wolves yesterday, will be in the lineup tonight against his childhood favorite team.
“Jarome Iginla was the man. I named my dog after (Miikka) Kiprusoff, he was ‘Kipper,’” Rattie, a Calgary native, said. “That run when they had when they lost to Tampa Bay (in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final) was my favorite childhood memory. I watched every game with my family. It was a lot of fun and it will be a lot of fun to play them.”
Rattie ranks second in scoring for the Chicago Wolves, scoring 21 goals and 21 assists in 59 games.
“In the last two or three weeks, he’s been white-hot,” Hitchcock said. “With the players that are missing, he’s got a similar attribute and we’re really looking forward to taking a good look at him…he’s not playing with a bunch of kids and playing a fourth line role, he’s going to get up there and get running right away. We’re looking forward to it.”
A win tonight against the Flames would give the Blues their seventh 100-point season in club history.
The Blues have won five of the last six against the Flames, earning at least a point in all of those games (5-0-1). The Blues have also won five straight against Calgary at Scottrade Center.
Zbynek Michalek scored his first goal as a Blue on Monday and how has a goal and an assist in his last three games.