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Flames at Blues preview: Bottom nine shuffle

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The Blues have gotten minimal scoring support from their bottom nine forwards.

NHL: Calgary Flames at St. Louis Blues Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

It’s nice that the Blues are giving away beer steins tonight, because their third period play is enough to cause someone to take up the bottle. Maintaining a lead is tough for the team toward the end of the game, a problem that lingers from last season.

Part of the problem is that the team isn’t maintaining offensive pressure consistently through all 60 minutes. It’s difficult to do so when your bottom nine forwards have an anemic offence.

Vladimir Sobotka, who has been all over the lines, has a solid six assists this season so far. The rest of the bottom nine - Magnus Paajarvi, Oskar Sundqvist, Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Dmitrij Jaskin, Chris Thorburn, - have a total of seven points. That’s one more than Sobotka.

No one’s expecting the bottom line to light the lamp constantly, but a more even scoring approach might help.

The Blues sent down Ivan Barbashev and Samuel Blais, and recalled Beau Bennett. According to Tom Timmermann, Bennett will slot into the third line with Magnus Paajarvi and Oskar Sundqvist. Vladimir Tarasenko will be playing RW with Schwartz and Schenn, while Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen with Vladimir Sobotka on the LW.

As you can tell, the coaching staff is getting creative thanks to injuries.

The Calgary Flames are chugging along, unfortunately sans Jaromir Jagr. Jagr will miss tonight’s game with a lower-body injury. Mike Smith is bringing stability to the Flames’ crease, with a pretty solid 2.49 GAA and a .928 save percentage.

The Flames might be just a game over .500, but they’re solid. This isn’t going to be an easy win tonight.