Gameday: Blues vs. Wild

Blues forward Tyler Bozak (21) watches Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk (40) make a save. (Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)

10/30: Blues/Wild, 7pm CT, Enterprise Center – NBCSN, ESPN 101.1

The St. Louis Blues (6-3-3) got some devastating news Monday before their matchup tonight against the Minnesota Wild (4-8-0). Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis’ top goal scorer, will miss 5 months due to a shoulder surgery, which clears him some time before playoffs. The Blues have missed the Russian winger for the last two games; however, they got the job done without him on Sunday with a 4-3 overtime win against Detroit.

The Blues gave up three goals in the third period, but Ryan O’Reilly scored to force overtime. “It’s a massive two points and we found a way to get them, but obviously there’s a lot of things we need to change,” O’Reilly commented afterwards. “Wasn’t a perfect game, but we can at least go home and feel a bit better about ourselves and get back to work.”

The Minnesota Wild collapsed last night to the Stars, after allowing six unanswered goals and 5 in the third period to lose 6-3. “We just sat back. I don’t think we pressured,” Jason Zucker told NHL.com. “We just chipped the puck and they changed and came full speed at us again and they would be in the zone for a minute and we would chip it and change. It was a cycle. That’s it.”

The Blues and Wild face off at Enterprise Center for the first meeting of the season, and St. Louis will head to Minnesota on Saturday. The Blues went 1-2-1 last season against the Wild, with their most recent game a 2-1 OT loss back in February. The game will be broadcasted on NBCSN, or radio broadcasting on ESPN 101.1.

Shorthanded

The Blues lost a superstar on Monday: Vladimir Tarasenko (3-7-10), who was injured against the Kings, will require shoulder surgery and will be absent for 5 months. Their top goal-scorer for the last 5 seasons, Tarasenko was rolling a hot streak coming into Thursday’s game against L.A., when he wrestled off a Kings defender on a partial break. He skated back to bench, and shortly after exited the game. Tarasenko had shoulder surgery back in the ’17-18 offseason, and has told the media he popped his shoulder during the Stanley Cup Final as well.

Despite losing their superstar, St. Louis is still confident they can rack up wins. “He’s obviously a top player in our game. He’s going to be missed, but our team is built as the sum of all parts,” general manager Doug Armstrong told NHL.com. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for some of our younger players. It’s going to have to come from other guys and we’re going to have to have strength in numbers and I believe we can get it done.”

That opening will be big shoes to fill not just for youth players like Sammy Blais (3-2-5) or Robert Thomas (1-0-1), but for the top-scoring vets like David Perron (6-6-12) and Brayden Schenn (9-4-13). It will likely be the first time we see a call-up from the San Antonio Rampage this season as well. Winger Nathan Walker, who was named AHL Player of the Week, leads the team in goals and points at 7-5-12. Klim Kostin, St. Louis’ first-round pick back in 2017, had a stellar training camp, but has struggled in the early season for the Rampage with just one goal.

Rough Rebuild

The Minnesota Wild has been off to one of the roughest starts in the league this season. After a tumultuous ’18-19 season that lead to the dismissal of GM Paul Fenton after just one year, Bill Guerin has been dealt one of the most difficult rebuilds in the NHL. They are 4th-last in the league and are 1-7-0 on the road.

With few valuable assets left on the roster to move, Guerin’s best (possibly only) move will be to rebuild the team through the draft. The Iowa Wild are on a roll in the AHL, first overall in the Central and 7th in the league. Sam Anas has been playing well for Iowa with five assists and eight points after two 30+ point seasons. Prospects like Matt Boldy and Kirill Kaprizov have been showing a lot of promise in the NTDP and the KHL, and could be seen playing as early as next season. Obviously Guerin’s first years in the Wild organization will be uncomfortable, but retooling through the draft could get Minnesota back on track sooner rather than later.

Blue Notes

Alex Pietrangelo played his 700th game against Detroit. He is the second defenseman to play 700 games as a Blue (Barrett Jackman).

David Perron is two assists away from 300 in his career.

Brayden Schenn will play his 600th career game tonight against Minnesota.

To listen to all of tonight’s action in St. Louis at 8pm ET, tune into NBC Sports Network or on the radio at ESPN 101.1.

For local Blues stories, recaps, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!

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