The Columbus Blue Jackets (7-3-0) hit the road to take on the St. Louis Blues (8-2-1) tonight. Both teams were victorious by scores of 2-1 on Friday night, although it took overtime for the CBJ to get the job done. The puck is expected to drop shortly after 8:00 PM ET. Here’s a preview of tonight’s matchup:
Today’s game between the Blues and Blue Jackets features a pair of teams who have experienced success so far this season in the environment they’ll see. St. Louis is a perfect 3-0-0 at the Scottrade Center, while the Jackets are an impressive 3-1-0 on the road.
The Blues are back home after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh last night. Backup goaltender Carter Hutton held the Canes to one goal on 27 shots, improving his record to 3-0-0. Number one netminder Jake Allen is expected to be between the pipes tonight. Allen is 5-2-1 this year with a 2.70 goals-allowed average and a .912 save percentage.
CBJ backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo is expected to start in net tonight after Sergei Bobrovsky improved to 6-2-0 last night against the Winnipeg Jets. Korpisalo has made two starts this season, both on the road, and is 1-1-0. His first performance came against the Chicago Blackhawks when the Jackets lost 5-1, but his most recent start came against the Jets 11 days ago when he held them to two goals on 26 shots and picked up the victory.
Offensively, both teams are strong averaging around 3.2 goals per game, with the Jackets ranking 11th and the Blues 13th in the National Hockey League.
The Blues have five players with double-digit point totals, while the Jackets have just one (Artemi Panarin). Leading the Blues is winger Jaden Schwartz, who has seven goals and eight assists so far this year. He has at least a point in every game but one this season and his 15 ranks third in the NHL behind Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
One aspect of the game that could play a role in determining the outcome tonight is special teams, and the CBJ may have the edge. The underperforming Jackets power play goes up against the Blues’ 27th ranked penalty kill on Saturday night, so perhaps there’s a chance for John Tortorella’s group to shine on the man advantage.
On the other side of the puck, the CBJ penalty kill has been impressive lately. They’re fifth in the NHL in PK percentage and have killed off 12 straight opposition power plays, including going 6-for-6 last night against Winnipeg.
Tonight’s game is a good opportunity for the Blue Jackets to face a tough Western Conference opponent on the road to keep improving on their best start in franchise history. With both teams playing in the second half of a back-to-back, it may not be pretty hockey out there, but with two points up for grabs expect the harder-working team to be victorious on Saturday night.