UPDATE: Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said Carl Gunnarsson will sit out tonight's game with a lower-body injury. Petteri Lindbohm, who was recalled from the Chicago Wolves on Thursday, will be in the lineup. T.J. Oshie will not play tonight, missing his second game with the flu.
WASHINGTON, DC - Fresh off a 4-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks that clinched a playoff spot for the fifth consecutive season and 40th time in franchise history, the Blues find themselves in the nation’s capital for their first meeting of the season with the League-leading Washington Capitals (6 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX).
The Capitals’ 111 points leads Blues, who are tied for second overall, by a whopping 14 points. Washington could clinch the Presidents’ Trophy with a win tonight, but the Blues will be looking to delay that party.
“You’ve got to be on your toes,” Blues goalie Jake Allen, who will start tonight, said of facing the Capitals. “You’ve got to be aware of every scenario around you and understand what’s going on. So many dangerous threats. You can’t take your foot off the gas.
“This is going to be a good measuring stick for us,” Allen added. “It’s late in the year, and sort of weird we haven’t played them yet. It’ll be a good test for us. We’re proud of what the group has accomplished so far, with a few games left to polish it off.”
Due to the back-to-back games and the late night travel, the Blues did not hold a morning skate today. It’s doubtful to expect many lineup changes (other than Jake Allen in goal), so here is the projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - David Backes
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Kevin Shattenkirk - Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo
The club has waited a long time to meet old friend T.J. Oshie, but might have to wait longer. Oshie missed last night’s game with the flu and his status for tonight is uncertain. “If it was up to me, I'd be playing,” Oshie said. “This is the time of year, I think the docs are shutting me down so everybody else doesn't get sick. So I mean, if there's a way, I will find it.” Oshie appeared in 443 regular season games with the Blues and ranks 17th in club history with 310 points (110 goals, 200 assists).
Tonight’s game will mark Troy Brouwer’s first meeting with the Capitals since being traded to St. Louis last summer. Brouwer tied a career high with 43 points (including a career-best 22 assists) last season with Washington. Currently, he has seven points in his last five games (two goals, five assists).
The Blues have won back-to-back games against the Capitals, including a 4-3 victory in their most recent trip to Washington D.C.
Tonight will be Allen’s first-ever start against the Capitals, who are the only NHL team he has yet to face.