Carter Hutton gets the start tonight as the Blues close up their back-to-back. Two games against teams in the thick of playoff races are tiring; neither of these games were or will be an easy win. Last night took opening minute heroics from Vladimir Tarasenko and closing minute heroics from Joel Edmundson to seal the deal. It was see-saw, it was weird, it saw a goal taken away then given back to the Ducks.
Tonight may be just as unpredictable.
The Islanders are barely holding on to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after starting the season unevenly, to say the least. They’ve righted the ship after naming former Blue Doug Weight as their coach, but the playoff seeding over in the other conference will probably come down to the last week of the season. A win against the Blues is key for the Islanders. A win against anyone is key for them.
The same holds true for the Blues, who will promptly fly out to face the Kings, their closest competition for the 8th spot in the West. Today and Monday can put some space between them and Los Angeles, or it could bump them over the Predators and back into the third spot in the Central Division. Impressively, the Blues are 7-2 in the second game of back-to-backs; tonight could see them five up over the Kings before they leave for an extended road trip.
The Blues have made some line-up adjustments for tonight. Jori Lehtera, who got hit in the face with a puck last night (and who shoved Corey Perry into Jake Allen, creating the mess of a first goal for the Ducks) will sit in favor of Ivan Barbashev. Colton Parayko left last night’s game with an injury and did not return, so Jordan Schmaltz will be in tonight in Parayko’s stead.
The Blues feel like an identity is coming. Most of us feel that mid-March is a bit late for that. If this quest to find themselves results in more performances like last night’s and the win against Minnesota on Tuesday night, they can keep it up.