Hitchcock's crew keeps asserting itself
St. Louis has been arguably hockey’s top home team all year. But can surging Philadelphia waltz into Scottrade Center and notch an upset?
Fresh off an extended holiday break, the two clubs clash tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Ken Hitchcock’s troops odds of -150 to emerge victorious. The Flyers, on the other hand, represent +120 underdogs.
With a 13-2-4 mark in the Gateway City, the Blues once again are positioning themselves for a premier playoff seed in the Western Conference. In another positive development, center Paul Stastny is expected to return to the lineup this evening. The former 28-goal scorer missed last Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay because of an upper-body ailment.
Stastny and the rest of the Note’s upper-echelon forwards will try to solve Steve Mason. Pressed into a larger role due to Michal Neuvirth’s knee injury, the Ontario native holds a 14-10-4 with a 2.69 GAA and .908 save percentage through 26 starts. Altogether, Philly’s 11-2-1 since Nov. 27.
Somewhat surprisingly, Hitchcock plans to deploy his backup netminder in several hours. The Blues haven’t prevailed in any of Carter Hutton’s past seven appearances, making the decision to sit Jake Allen one of the against-the-grain variety. Nevertheless, count on the hosts to triumph in their preferred setting.
WEDNESDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLUES -1.5