Central Division and playoffs: The two go together hand-in-hand.
While the St. Louis Blues are clinging onto the back of the playoff race, they lag far behind. Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche is climbing up the standings and eyeing a higher position in the standings.
These two division rivals face off for the third and final time this season. Colorado has won both games this season against the Blues. Will they complete the season sweep?
The Avs are coming off an impressive and valiant victory over another division rival. On the second half of a back-to-back on the road after a late night of travel, Colorado managed to end up on top over the Minnesota Wild 3-1 despite only garnering 19 shots on goal.
They gave up 43 shots and stood on their heads, specifically Alexandar Georgiev who was heavily relied on in the win. He’s stepped up in the last few games shorthanded with the Avs still dealing with an injury crisis.
However, the injuries seem to be getting better. Cale Makar was at practice Friday as a full participant. With Brad Hunt not being called up from the Eagles, it may be a sign Makar is ready to return and look to make the Avs’ point streak four games and counting.
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Evan Rodrigues (9) - J.T. Compher (37) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Alex Newhook (18) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Matt Nieto (83) - Ben Meyers (59) - Denis Malgin (81)
Cale Makar (8) - Devon Toews (7)
Sam Girard (49) - Josh Manson (42)
Bowen Byram (4) - Andreas Englund (88)
St. Louis Blues
The Blues are coming off a vital 4-2 win over the high-flying New Jersey Devils on home ice. It was a performance they crucially needed as they look to stay on the back end of the playoff race, and also was their third straight win.
But, they look to be giving up on their playoff dreams as they are having a fire sale. Vladimir Tarasenko moved on to greener pastures with the New York Rangers. Also, just announced last night was the departure of their captain Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Accari to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
We have acquired Ryan O’Reilly & Noel Acciari in a three-team trade with St. Louis & Minnesota.— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 18, 2023
STL receives Mikhail Abramov & Adam Gaudette, TOR's 1st round pick in '23, OTT's 3rd round pick in '23 & TOR's 2nd round pick in '24. MIN receives TOR's 4th round pick in '25. pic.twitter.com/QAOUZvUZfH
With the moves, the Blues are going to look much different for the rest of the year. No captain and a lost identity will leave them wandering around for the rest of the year and perhaps still offloading players before the trade deadline. But, Jordan Kyrou and company will look to keep a 100 percent winning record after the NHL All-Star break and fourth straight win.
Pavel Buchnevich (89) - Robert Thomas (18) - Jordan Kyrou (25)
Jake Neighbours (63) - Brayden Schenn (10) - Ivan Barbashev (49)
Sammy Blais (79) - Logan Brown (22) - Josh Leivo (17)
Alexei Torpochenko (13) - Nathan Walker (26) - Tyler Pitlick (9)
Nick Leddy (4) - Colton Parayko (55)
Torey Krug (47) - Justin Faulk (72)
Tyler Tucker (75) - Calle Rosen (43)
While Georgiev has been proclaimed as the starter for this team in this stretch while Pavel Francouz remains out for at least three weeks, he might not be starting this game. Jared Bednar said recently-called up Justus Annunen would be used in one of the two games this weekend. Just based on the standings and the importance of games this weekend against the Blues and Edmonton Oilers, Annunen would likely get the start in the Blues game over the Oilers game. Don’t be surprised if he ends up in net for the matinee.
Meanwhile, the Blues should roll with their usual temper tantrum in net, Jordan Binnington. He may be feeling angry for the rest of the season with a lackluster team and his struggling 3.25 goals against average and .893 save percentage.