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Coyotes at Blues preview: Perunovich here to give defense a jolt

This is a good first regular season game for the rookie.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Allow me to start this preview with a moment of silence for Kyle Clifford.

It’s not surprising to see him get sent down to clear roster space for Oskar Sundqvist’s return - he was always the most likely player gone. The depth that the Blues have in the bottom nine, or whoever you consider to be the bottom nine, has rendered Clifford a moot point. He’s fine on the fourth line, but not fine elsewhere - and the other rotating group of players, especially Klim Kostin, are lineup multitaskers. Clifford is, as Alton Brown would call him, a unitasker. He’s an egg slicer, or an avocado pit remover. Why spend $1 million on something to take the pit out of an avocado and slice it when a chef’s knife would do?

Clifford has not been claimed yet, but him clearing waivers and heading to the Thunderbirds is of a high probability.

There’s also a high probability of Oskar Sundqvist returning either tonight, or the next game. With Clifford being waived, it marks Sunny’s first game since March 19th. His torn ACL is all healed up, and the key cog in the Blues’ chemistry looks good to go.

The Blues recalled Scott Perunovich yesterday in hopes of supplying defensive support while Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola continue to be on the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol list. The Blues played well in their last three games, the first three-game losing streak of the season, but losses that came at the end of the third against both Carolina and Edmonton were avoidable goals against. The pairing of Marco Scandella and Colton Parayko continue to look lost out there, showing little chemistry or communication.

Perunovich, in contrast to the Blues’ current defense, seems very self and situationally aware, and that’s something that the team will need against Clayton Keller. The Chesterfield native has 18 points against the Blues in his career, and keeping him off of the scoresheet will go a long way towards the Blues beating the Coyotes.

The Yotes are 1-13-1 on this season and are in dead last in the NHL. They did score four goals against the Blues back on October 18th, so it’s not like Arizona is not a dangerous team - they’re just bad. It won’t help the Coyotes that Andrew Ladd and Johan Larsson are on the Covid-19 protocol list, and Nick Fischer is out day to day. A big loss is that of Dmitrij Jaskin, who is probably out for the season after a hit on his knee by Mark Borowiecki that the league decided needed no additional punishment.

This is the perfect bounce-back game for the Blues after three hard losses, two of which were against some of the top teams in the league.