Gameday: Blues vs. Avalanche

Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) looks for the puck past Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (92). (Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)

12/16: Blues/Avalanche, Enterprise Center, 7pm CT – FSMW, ESPN 101.1

ST. LOUIS – One of the biggest games of the season sees the St. Louis Blues (20-8-6) facing the Colorado Avalanche (21-8-3) for first place in the Western Conference tonight at Enterprise Center. After going down 3-0 in the third period, the Blues pulled off a dramatic comeback against the Chicago Blackhawks to win 4-3 on Saturday.

Tyler Bozak scored a pair of goals in his 700th game, Jacob de la Rose scored his first in St. Louis, and Robert Thomas had jaw-dropping assists on three of the four goals.

“We kept pushing and stayed with it. We had a lot of shots tonight and a lot of work and offensive zone time. It’s good to see us hanging out back there,” goaltender Jordan Binnington told after the win. “They really stepped up and were huge in that third period. It’s a big win for us.”

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, over the weekend, with Valeri Nichushkin scoring his 6th goal in ten games, along with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. With the latest win, the Avs have points in 9 straight games.

“I think it is a sign of a good team that you find ways to win games, ways to pick up points, even when you’re not at your best,” defenseman Mark Barberio said. “I think that is what happened this week, this homestand. It wasn’t our best, but good teams find a way and it’s a good sign.”

After getting their superstars in MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog all back together from injury, the blue line will shorthanded for Colorado: rookie phenom Cale Makar is still recovering from an injury, as is former first overall pick Erik Johnson. The Avs take on the Blues tonight in St. Louis at 7pm CT, with an opportunity to take the lead in the Western Conference point race. The Blues play on their flagship Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN 101.1 tonight.

Deck the Hall

The Taylor Hall frenzy has only continued, especially with inklings of St. Louis still in the race for acquiring the touted right winger. Taylor Hall was scratched against Arizona and Colorado for precautionary reasons, prompting speculation he would be traded by the ed of the weekend. While some infer that Hall would be moved to Colorado, the Avalanche players beg to differ.

“Not one second did I think he was coming here. I didn’t think he was coming here when he got scratched,” Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon said of Hall in the Denver Post. “Maybe he is. But I think people think we get distracted easier than we do.”

With Colorado (potentially) out of the equation, the next target has become Arizona, St. Louis, Dallas, and a mystery contender. Lots of fans have thrown out the idea of trading Robert Thomas and/or Jake Allen for the 28-year-old, which was shut down pretty thoroughly after Thomas’ performance on Saturday.

That leaves Arizona as the frontrunner, as reported my multiple established reporters. Elliotte Friedman had this to say about his conversations with sources in his latest column on Sportsnet:

“According to multiple sources, the Coyotes were not offering either of their last two first-round draft picks, center Barrett Hayton (2018) and defenseman Victor Soderstrom (2019) … I assume there is more to the package, but don’t know the details. It is believed, however, to be more of a futures-based offer. GM John Chayka would not comment on Sunday, but a couple of teams do think Arizona will go in a different direction if this continues too long without a resolution.”

Blue Notes

Robert Thomas plays his 100th NHL game tonight… Ryan O’Reilly has nine points in his last eight games… Ivan Barbashev exited the game in the second period due to injury; he is 3 games shy of 200. More to come… Alex Steen recorded a +3 rating in his first game back since November 6th

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