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Penguins at Blues preview: Luck of the O’Reilly

Will the Blues be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a win?

St. Louis Blues v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

With the absence of Tyler Bozak, the Blues are going to have to make adjustments. With tonight’s opponent being the Pittsburgh Penguins, those adjustments are a bit more urgent than they might be otherwise.

At least if the Blues can win in regulation, they won’t have to deal with the Penguins adding to St. Louis’ abysmal 1-6 OTL record. Six extra points in the standings isn’t going to make the Blues catch the Avs, but it would be a nice cushion over the Predators, Wild, and Stars.

Much like the Blues, the Penguins suffered a loss on Tuesday - a 4-1 bounceback win for the Predators. It was a rare offensive fizzling for the Pens, who average 3.21 goals a game (12th in the league). The Blues, however, don’t need to necessarily focus on offense. They need to tighten up their defense. Evgeny Malkin is chugging along at nearly a point per game pace, and Sidney Crosby refuses to age. He’s second on the team with 59 points to Jake Guentzel’s 60. After the last game against the Penguins, a 5-3 loss that showcased the Blues’ defense’s flaws and the importance of not taking penalties against Pittsburgh, the Blues should be well aware of how dangerous the Penguins’ offence can be.

Thankfully, the Blues will be getting Pavel Buchnevich back tonight, so even with the loss of Bozak, their lines are well-balanced:

Saad - O’Reilly - Perron

Kyrou - Thomas* - Tarasenko

Barbashev - Schenn - Buchnevich

MacEachern - Sundqvist - Toropchenko

Defense

Scandella - Parayko

Krug - Faulk

Mikkola - Bortuzzo

Goalie

Husso

* skated but will not play tonight. The projected lineup will be updated to replace Thomas after warm-ups (stlblues.com).