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Canadiens at Blues preview: Stretch run begins

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The pressure begins.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at St. Louis Blues Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

With Jaden Schwartz’s return to the line-up Thursday night, the Blues can begin their second-half push in earnest, which is good because they need to make up the ground that they lost during the forward’s injury.

The Blues sit third in the Central Division, now three points behind the Jets and two points behind the Predators. With three fewer games played, the Colorado Avalanche are just six points behind. The Blues have played the most games in the division, and instead of using that fact to set up a cushion, they’ve squandered standing position through fits and spurts of less than ideal play.

Luckily the Blues can start off their second half with a team who has been having a rough go of it. The Montreal Canadiens are three games under .500 and ten points out of a playoff spot. They’re also 4-4-2 in their last ten, despite the best efforts of All-Star goaltender Carey Price.

Price is 14-17-4 on the season with a 3.02 GAA and a .905 SV%. The Canadiens have problems and they’re reflected in that stat line. They’ve taken a perennial All-Star and reduced him to a slightly below-league average goalie. Adding to the Habs’ woes, Shea Weber is out with an injured foot and did not make the trip to St. Louis, and center Phillip Danault has a concussion.

Mike Yeo has already named Carter Hutton as tonight’s starter, so get those trade deadline hyperbolic goalie trade proposals ready. This is his sixth start in a row, and he leads the NHL in goals-against average at 1.74 and in save percentage at .943.

So, yeah, he’s getting the start.