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Blues at Stars preview: Toropchenko debuts tonight

The Blues’ covid situation could look a little better starting this evening in Dallas.

St. Louis Blues v Dallas Stars Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blues are clawing their way back from Covid-19, it looks like. Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk are both back from the protocol list tonight, barring setbacks. Alexei Toropchenko will be making his debut tonight, as the Blues have more roster holes than Bozak alone can fill. With Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn both out for the foreseeable future, the Blues had to make another call-up; they found the cap space to call up Toropchenko thanks to the placement of David Perron on the LTIR retroactive to November 27th.

Somehow, despite the mess, the Blues are 3-0-2 in their last five games, and have given a few of the league’s best teams a run for their money. Not bad for a team with half of an AHL roster, their fourth-string goalie as starter, and a recent signing as their backup.

Speaking of goaltending, the Dallas Stars have had an uneven go of it. Former all-star and St. Louis native Ben Bishop is being forced to retire with a career-ending knee injury. Following that news, the Stars waived Anton Khudobin, thereby ending the tenure of the last two Stars goaltenders to get them deep into the playoffs. Stars GM Jim Nill says his team needs the free roster-spot for call-ups, and he’s concerned that with Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger as their one-two tandem, Khudobin won’t get the playing time that he needs to stay in game shape.

Or maybe a team will claim him by noon today and take his $3.333 million cap hit off of the books.

Whatever the reason, this gives the Stars enough cap space to recall an extra player if needed, since Roope Hintz, Alexander Radulov (both ill) and Joel Kiviranta missed Monday’s practice and are question marks for tonight’s game. Hintz, you may remember, scored twice against St. Louis back on November 20th as a key contributor in the stars 4-1 victory.

Dallas still has their killer goaltending tandem for the Blues to worry about, both of whom have been key for the Stars during their absurd eight-game win streak at home. The Stars have been on a road trip, however, where they’ve lost three in a row, so it’s not like they’re unbeatable. With the current holes in their roster, though, the Blues will have to put forth a good effort to end the Stars’ home winning streak.