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Jets At Blues Preview: Laine, Scheifele Ones To Watch

Will the Blues’ special teams be key to their success tonight?

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues will be starting Carter Hutton tonight. Hutton hasn’t played since the November 23rd 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, and statistically his tenure with the Blues hasn’t gotten off to the best start. He’s 2-4-0 so far this year, with a 2.98 GAA and a .891 save percentage. He’s played well during games, but his stats line isn’t reflecting it. So, why start him against a team with the leading rookie scorer in Patrick Laine? Will the jeopardize their six game home winning streak?

Eh. Carter Hutton’s two wins have come at home and he’s benefited from the Blues’ excellent play at Scottrade, with a .929 save percentage at home.

Jake Allen looked gassed by the end of the Blues’ 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, and it’s easy to feel confident in how the Blues play the Jets. They won last season’s series 3-0-1, and have a 5-1-1 record against the team at Scottrade since their relocation from Atlanta. Playing the Jets is almost a gimmie, and a six game road losing streak for Winnipeg is probably adding to the Blues’ confidence tonight.

The issue here is treating it like a gimmie game. When a team starts feeling like the win is theirs before a game starts, you have issues. It’s easy to discount the Jets thanks to their awful penalty kill and their propensity to take more avoidable penalties than the Blues (which is in and of itself impressive). When you have the 25th ranked penalty kill going up against the league’s sixth best power play, there’s an opportunity for scoring there that the Blues would be remiss not to pounce on. The Jets will more than likely counter with Dustin Byfuglien’s huge presence in front of Hutton on the power play, so clearing him out of the crease might be something that the team needs to focus on.

Here’re tonight’s projected lines. Jori Lehtera is a healthy scratch tonight. Despite centering Vladimir Tarasenko more often than not, his point production has been atrocious this season. Fabbri - Steen - Tarasenko was successful against the Lightning, so Ken Hitchcock will keep that trio together to start tonight’s game. Nail Yakupov also will get a chance on the third line, with Ty Rattie sitting out.

Forwards

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - David Perron

Robby Fabbri - Alexander Steen - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Robert Bortuzzo - Colton Parayko

Goalie

Carter Hutton