St. Louis will host the Vancouver Canucks in the regular NHL championship.
With the appointment of Drew Bannister as interim coach by General Manager Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues have shown improved results, winning 5 out of 6 games. However, the team faced difficulties towards the end of the year, losing two matches to Colorado and Pittsburgh, scoring only 3 goals.
The team's focus is on young talents, including winger Jake Neighbours and defender Scott Perunovich, whom Armstrong sees as key players of the new Blues' generation. In the last victory over Dallas with a score of 2:1, Perunovich made two passes, while Neighbours scored 12 goals in the season, including goals in two consecutive matches.
In their last match against Pittsburgh, the Blues suffered a 2:3 defeat, which was the second consecutive loss. The team is expecting changes due to the injury of defender Justin Faulk, occurred in the game against Colorado Avalanches. His place was taken by Matt Kessel, who was called up from AHL. The Blues also brought up forward Nathan Walker from AHL who scored 29 points in 30 matches, and will be played in the fourth line as per Bannister's decision. The Blues have 3 Russian players, including prospect Nikita Alexandrov who has no points in 10 matches so far. Toropchenko has 4 goals and 6 assists in 36 matches, and St. Louis leader Pavel Buchnevich is second on the team's scoring list with 12 goals and 28 points.
The Vancouver Canucks are leading the NHL with 51 points and they recently ended their 9-game point streak with a loss to Philadelphia, but then started a new winning streak. They defeated the San Jose Sharks by a score of 7:4 and Ottawa Senators 6:3, scoring five goals in the first period against Ottawa. Coach Rick Tocchet highly praised the team's performance, especially their aggression and control of the game. Defending Quinn Hughes made a significant contribution, he scored a goal and made several passes, including during his five-game point streak. The team's third line, consisting of Joshua, Bluger and Garland, also made a significant contribution, scoring 28 points in the last 10 matches. Goalkeeper Demko has been performing well, with 18 victories in 27 matches.
However, Tocchet expressed disappointment with the team's defensive actions in the last two periods. The Canucks forwards are on top, leading the league in average goals per game - 3.86. In their recent games, they defeated Nashville, Chicago and San Jose, but lost to Dallas and Philadelphia. Boeser is the team leader with 24 goals, while Hughes made 35 assists. The team had changes due to the injury of Phillip Di Giuseppe, and he was replaced by Linus Karlsson. Russian players Andrey Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev also made a contribution, scoring a total of 18 goals and making 22 assists.
In the last encounter on October 28th, Vancouver didn't leave any chances for St. Louis with the score of 5:0. But for the past 2 years, the Canucks only have 2 wins, Blues triumphed 6:5 in overtime on March 29 and February 24 with a score of 3:2 also in overtime.
The Canucks are starting the longest road trip this season consisting of 7 matches and the first opponent is quite passable. Vancouver is first in the league in terms of goals per game this season (3.84) and should crack Binnington's defence. In the upcoming match against St. Louis Blues, my bet is on the Canucks.
Although the Blues usually demonstrate a reliable defence, their offence has recently been subpar, considering only 5 goals in the last three games. Vancouver, on the contrary, is more efficient in attack, consistently scoring goals and roughly equal to the Blues in terms of effectiveness in away matches.