Preview: Blues at Canucks
The St. Louis Blues look to build on their six-point lead atop the Central Division on Monday when they visit the Vancouver Canucks, who own a significantly smaller cushion atop the Pacific. The Blues enjoyed a sizzling 12-2-1 run before dropping their last two games before the All-Star break while the Canucks have won 11 of their last 14.
While St. Louis knows a thing or two about strong play at home, Vancouver has won eight in a row at Rogers Arena and boasts a 16-5-3 record on its own ice to claim a one-point lead over Edmonton, Calgary, Arizona and Vegas atop the Pacific Division. "It's crazy," Canucks center Brandon Sutter told reporters. "I don't think I've ever seen that before. It's going to be tight all the way down the stretch. It's definitely one of the deeper divisions in the league now." While both Vancouver and St. Louis sport sterling records at home, each has won on the other's home ice this season. The Canucks skated to a 4-3 shootout win in the Gateway City on Oct. 17 before the Blues got even in British Columbia three weeks later, courtesy of a 2-1 overtime victory on Nov. 5.
TIME: 10 p.m. ET. TV: FS Midwest, Sportsnet Pacific
ABOUT THE BLUES (30-11-8): Jordan Binnington, who turned aside 33 shots in the overtime win versus Vancouver, was on top of his game Friday by denying the last 10 shooters he faced from the Pacific Division to win the NHL Save Streak competition. Binnington wasn't the lone member of the Blues working over the weekend, as he joined captain Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron and reigning Selke Trophy recipient Ryan O'Reilly in the All-Star Game festivities. Perron boosted his team leading totals in goals (21) and points (49) with five and nine, respectively, over the last seven games while O'Reilly had eight of his club-best 34 assists over his last eight contests.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (27-18-4): Vancouver's Jacob Markstrom is on pace for his best season of his NHL career, sporting an 18-13-3 record in 34 games while securing his first All-Star appearance in his 10th campaign. "It's honoring and humbling for sure," the 29-year-old Swede told reporters. "For me personally, I've put in so much time and effort into Vancouver to help the team win. My teammates and our defensemen this year have done a tremendous job helping me, and I can't thank them enough." He likely was able to thank two of them this weekend, as defenseman Quinn Hughes (one goal, five assists) and Elias Pettersson (two goals, one assist) distinguished themselves to help the Pacific Division team win the All-Star Game.
1. Vancouver captain Bo Horvat has recorded 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games.
2. Blues LW Jaden Schwartz, who scored the overtime goal versus the Canucks on Nov. 5, has 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in his last 15 contests.
3. Pettersson, who leads the team in goals (21), assists (30) and points (51), has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his last nine games.
PREDICTION: Canucks 4, Blues 2