One of the NHL stingiest defensive teams suddenly can’t stop the opposition while the league’s least productive offense finally broke out of its season-long doldrums. The St. Louis Blues will look to tighten up their defense when they resume their three-game Western Canada road trip against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
St. Louis owns the best record in the Western Conference but has been pierced for a dozen goals in back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Calgary. “We’re going to have to reset everything and get back to the way we want to play, what we know is successful,” Blues forward Paul Stastny said after the team allowed five third-period goals to the Flames in Monday’s 7-4 setback. Edmonton had been dead last in scoring before erupting for eight goals — two by reigning MVP Connor McDavid — in a rout of expansion Vegas on Tuesday night. “It is definitely good for the confidence of the group,” said Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who also scored twice. “We can’t get away from that now.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), Sportsnet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE BLUES (13-5-1): Coach Mike Yeo opted to shuffle his top two lines to start the road trip but he needed just one game to change his mind, moving star forward Vladimir Tarasenko back on the top unit with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn while putting Vladimir Sobotka alongside Stastny and Alexander Steen. “Just get back to what we were doing when we were on top of our game,” Yeo said. Tarasenko has five goals and 10 points in his last seven games overall and seven goals in 14 games versus Edmonton.
ABOUT THE OILERS (7-9-2): Just prior to the demoliton of Vegas, Edmonton addressed the offensive woes by acquiring Michael Cammelleri from Los Angeles in exchange for Jussi Jokinen in a swap of veteran forwards. Cammalleri, who has netted at least 19 goals in 10 seasons, had three goals and four assists with the Kings. “I’m excited to go there and have an opportunity to play,” Cammalleri said. “I know it hasn’t been the start they were looking for, but it’s a team that can honestly be as good as it wants to be.”
1. Edmonton has won four straight in the series following a streak of eight straight victories by St. Louis.
2. Blues F Beau Bennett, who played alongside Schwartz and Schenn on Monday, was sent to Chicago of the American Hockey League.
3. McDavid has one goal and six points in six games against St. Louis.
PREDICTION: Blues 4, Oilers 3