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Preview: St. Louis Blues at Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA, ONT – The St. Louis Blues (36-26-7) open a three-game northeastern road trip heading to the Canadian Tire Centre to face the Ottawa Senators (23-41-6) in the nation’s capital at 6:30. The Blues are feeling the loss of their superstar Vladimir Tarasenko after a 3-2 overtime loss in San Jose and a 3-1 loss against the Arizona Coyotes. Ottawa is looking to rebound off three straight losses and a 1-8-1 for their last ten. The Blues took their last meeting with Ottawa, a 3-2 victory in mid-January.

Tarasenko, sidelined with an elbow injury, is expected to miss at least three more games, which include matchups against Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. Out of the lineup for St. Louis also includes Joel Edmundson and Sammy Blais, who both sustained injuries in Tuesday night’s game against Arizona, which opens the door for Michael Del Zotto, Robby Fabbri, Jordan Kyrou, and maybe even David Perron.

OTTAWA’S “GONGSHOW”

To say the Ottawa Senators’ last couple of seasons have been “rough” would be the understatement of the decade. Since falling one double-overtime goal short of a Stanley Cup Final appearance (something the franchise has only done once back in 2007), the Senators roster and organization has entered total freefall. If you’re still not aware, here’s a quick recap of what’s transpired in Ottawa the last two years:

The Senators traded Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Matt Duchene (after just trading their first-round draft pick for him in late 2017), Ryan Dzingel and Mark Stone, just to name the principal assets, from 2017 to 2019. All five players have 40+ points this season, and those last three still hold three of the top four point totals for Ottawa’s roster this season. The Senators currently sit last in the NHL and have already been eliminated from playoff contention, and in early March questionably fired head coach Guy Boucher.

There are a couple of silver linings for the Sens: amidst the trades, Ottawa has four guaranteed first round picks in the next three seasons, and seven second-round picks. They have youth players like Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot that are reinvigorating the goals-for stat and will vastly improve their gameplay. The Belleville Senators are having an inspiring comeback season (13-2-5 in their last 20) in the AHL with prospects like Logan Brown and Nick Paul. Finally, the cap space is heavily in their favor, to the tune of almost $10 million projected (per CapFriendly). If the Senators can reach any deal with Lebreton Flats, get favorable picks in the upcoming drafts, and/or get a new owner to buy the team, the rebuild could pay off soon and give fans hope.

BLUES CUTTING IT CLOSE

The Blues injury curse has plagued them at the worst possible time down the homestretch, with their leading goal scorer out at least a week. When Brayden Schenn missed six games with an injury, the Blues went 2-3-1 with a 1.5 average GPG. With Tarasenko out the last two, they are 0-1-1, also 1.5 GPG. That scope may be minuscule, but so is the lead the Blues have in the standings: two points ahead of Dallas for the 3rd spot in the Central Division, four ahead of Arizona with the second wild card. Just two losses and you switch from solid playoff contention to out of the playoffs in a snap. Tandem that with just 13 games left in the season, and now there’s a legitimate reason to be concerned that the Blues can miss playoffs for the second year in a row, which they have not done since 2011.

The Blues’ “prodigal son” could return soon, however; in his third stint and 8th season with the Blues, forward David Perron has been consistently skating in practice with the team ever since being sidelined with a concussion on January 17th. Coach Berube has said that Perron gets in the lineup whenever he feels ready to play again. Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic also reported that Perron will make the Blues’ road trip through the northeast, which is a great positive for the Blues depth. Perron has 17 goals and 18 assists through 45 games played this season. Joel Edmundson and Sammy Blais, who were hurt in Tuesday night’s game, will not be making the trip.

HEY, WHERE’S FABBRI?

It’s no question that Robby Fabbri has been a hot topic for Blues fans ever since his debut in 2015. While putting up an impressive 18 goals and 37 points in his rookie season, the Mississauga, Ontario native has had a rough start to his career, with two ACL injuries and a separated shoulder sidelining him almost half of his sophomore season, his entire 17-18 season, and again this season. Now, the 23-year-old Fabbri is healthy, fit, and… scratched in the Blues’ past five games. Fabbri may be facing the post-injury skid (5 points in 29 games), but with recent injuries to the team, including Sammy Blais, Fabbri may finally get his chance again in Ottawa:

“It’s been a tough road obviously for [Fabbri] with his injuries. It’s hard.” head coach Craig Berube told Rutherford. “You get in there and it’s hard to get that consistency that’s needed night in and night out. But we’re going to get him in there next game.”

The Blues and Senators face off at the Canadian Tire Centre at 7:30 pm ET. Broadcast providers for the game are:

STL – FSMW, KMOX 1120, NHL.tv

OTT – TSN5, CFGO 1200

PROJECTED LINEUPS

ST. LOUIS

FORWARDS:

10 Schenn – 90 O’Reilly – 18 Thomas

7 Maroon – 21 Bozak – 20 Steen

15 Fabbri – 70 Sundqvist – 17 Schwartz

62 MacEachern – 49 Barbashev – 33 Kyrou

DEFENSE:

27 Pietrangelo – 29 Dunn

55 Parayko – 19 Bouwmeester

41 Bortuzzo – 42 Del Zotto

IN GOAL:

50 Binnington

OTTAWA

FORWARDS:

10 Duclair – 44 Pageau – 7 Tkachuk

9 Ryan – 15 Smith – 78 Chlapik

56 Paajarvi – 71 Tierney – 38 Balcers

89 Boedker – 24 Lindberg – 17 Gibbons

DEFENSE:

2 DeMelo – 5 Ceci

14 Verroneau – 86 Wolanin

74 Borowiecki – 67 Harpur

IN GOAL:

41 Anderson

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