Blues forward Jaden Schwartz (17) slides a wrist shot underneath Maple Leafs’ goaltender Frederik Andersen (31). (Photo courtesy: JB Forbes, STL Post-Dispatch)
The St. Louis Blues (1-0-1) are starting up their first road trip of the season through eastern Canada, making their first stop against the Toronto Maple Leafs (2-0-1). The last time these two teams met was Feb. 19, where the Blues pulled out a narrow overtime winner to set a franchise-record 11th consecutive win.
The Leafs, despite the stories surrounding their superstars in Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, are already on a roll in the goal scoring column, with the aforementioned players having five points each. After a disappointing game 7 loss to Boston last season, the Maple Leafs retooled their blue line, and the additions of Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin should help solidify their defense.
The Blues and Leafs face off at 6pm CT at Scotiabank Arena tonight, with Jordan Binnington likely getting the nod in net.
On the Road Again
Part of the Blues’ miraculous comeback season last year can be credited to their road game. St. Louis was 21-13-7 on the road (compared to 24-15-2 in their own building) and had the second most road points in the West. In addition, the Blues’ playoff record on the road was a solid 10-3.
Now, with the Blues’ cup defense in full swing, the team’s outlook on their first road trip of the season may be slightly different, considering how most of last season’s group is still together.
“Getting on the road, usually you use it to get to know your teammates”, Brayden Schenn told the STL Post-Dispatch. “But I feel like we’re pretty much the same group in this locker room. We played good hockey on the road last season and we expect the same this year.”
More than just a homecoming for some players (16 on the roster being Canadian), the Blues have their trip to the White House and to the Hockey Hall of Fame planned with this four-game road stand. “Nine days, and we’re going to have a lot of things to do”, forward Sammy Blais told the Post-Dispatch. “It’s going to be a busy week, but we’re excited to get on the road and get all together and just having fun.”
O Captain, Who’s Captain?
The Maple Leafs had one of the more interesting offseasons in the NHL for more reasons than just the roster. After a drawn-out negotiation that lasted past the first day of training camp, the Leafs finally re-signed Mitch Marner to a $10.893 million-dollar contract. With that signing, the Leafs arguably have the best top 6 in the entire National Hockey League. However, for Leafs fans, that’s not the most concerning issue.
Their right-side defensemen consist of Cody Ceci, Tyson Barrie, Justin Holl and Martin Marincin. Marincin was signed to an ELC back in June and Barrie and Ceci were both obtained in big offseason trades. Tyson Barrie was a big win for the Leafs, but the talent level drops off significantly afterwards.
With an elite left side in Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, and up-and-coming star Rasmus Sandin, and a goals-against that ranked 18th last season, the Leafs’ defense still could use an upgrade on the right. The defensive matchup will certainly be one to watch tonight against the Blues’ elite right side in Pietrangelo, Faulk, and Parayko.
Finally, after three years of vacancy, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced John Tavares as their new captain. Tavares, after signing as a free agent last summer, had career-highs in goals and points his first year as a Leaf. However, the hometown hero wasn’t the candidate everyone suspected would don the “C” at first.
Many believed the captaincy would go to Auston Matthews, but rumor has it that honor went away with a disorderly conduct charge filed on Matthews over the summer (more details can be read here.) Regardless, the Leafs have been on a roll in terms of scoring, with a league-leading 14 goals in three games and 9 players already registering 3+ points.
Vladimir Tarasenko is suiting up for his 500th career NHL game.
Alex Pietrangelo is a point shy of recording 400 points with the Blues, only second defenseman in the history of the franchise to do so (Al Macinnis).
Perron is a goal shy of his 200th career NHL goal.
The Blues have won six straight games against Toronto, three on them on the road.
Projected lineups for tonight’s game against Toronto are:
17 Schwartz – 10 Schenn – 91 Tarasenko
9 Blais – 90 O’Reilly – 57 Perron
15 Fabbri – 21 Bozak – 12 Sanford
49 Barbashev – 70 Sundqvist – 20 Steen
4 Gunnarsson – 27 Pietrangelo
19 Bouwmeester – 55 Parayko
29 Dunn – 72 Faulk
For more local St. Louis Blues stories, recaps, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!