Can Canucks find a prayer vs. Blues?
With its roster gradually returning to full health at just the right time, St. Louis shoots for another decisive victory over visiting Vancouver tonight.
The Blues manhandled the Canucks last weekend, 3-0, with Brian Elliott making a triumphant return in net. He proceeded to up the ante on Tuesday, making 37 stops to blank longtime Western Conference nemesis San Jose.
Oddsmakers like the Note’s chances of staying hot this evening. Per online sports book BetDSI, St. Louis nets odds of -300 to prevail at Scottrade Center. Moribund Vancouver, on the other hand, has a money line of +240 to spring the upset.
The visitors are in the midst of a season-high six-game losing streak. Injuries have ravaged a once-formidable power-play unit, which boasts but one goal over the last 27 chances. While forward Jannik Hansen (19 goals) actually shook off a rib ailment to appear in last night at Nashville, various impact players remain shelved.
Ken Hitchcock’s squad can commiserate. Having gone without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Jaden Schwartz for extended stretches, the Blues now find themselves inching closer to operating at maximum strength. Perennial 60-point man Alexander Steen (shoulder) isn’t quite ready for game action, but all the way around, it’s coalescing quite nicely in the Gateway City.
Elliott, of course, represents one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle. His record since Jan. 16: a superlative 12-3-2 with a 1.57 goals-against-average and .949 save percentage. No longer compromised by knee trouble, the two-time All-Star clearly feels reinvigorated for the stretch run.
Interestingly, Vancouver has won three straight in St. Louis. Head coach Willie Desjardins will likely ride with backup goalie Jacob Markstrom in this affair, though, rather than give Ryan Miller back-to-back assignments. The Blues also know better than to squander a golden opportunity to make up ground on Central Division-leading Dallas in their first home contest in two weeks.
FRIDAY NHL FREE PICK: ST. LOUIS -1.5