Blues Gameday Preview: Washington Capitals – 1/7/2022

The St. Louis Blues open a five-game homestand tonight against the Washington Capitals. The game marks the Capitals’ first appearance in St. Louis since Oct. 2, 2019 – when the Blues raised the Stanley Cup banner.

Here’s a look at the storylines and projections ahead of tonight’s matchup:

2 Storylines: Blues (19-10-5).

COVID Hits Again the Blues

It may have been too good to be true, but the Blues went into Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a healthy group of forwards for the first time since late November. Their health was temporary: The team made the announcement on ThursdayForward Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Walman, and Scott Perunovich were all added to the COVID-19 protocol.

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues (Photo: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tarasenko leads the team with 14 goals and 34 points in 34 games this season and is one of three players to appear in every game, along with defensemen Colton Parayko and Marco Scandella. The 30-year old appears to have recovered from his shoulder injuries and isn’t bothered by the offseason trade rumors. 

Perunovich, 23 years old, has performed well since he was recalled by the Springfield Thunderbirds. He played in 18 games, scoring six assists. The young defenseman is usually assigned to the third pairing or second power-play unit. He is just getting started before being thrust into the deep end. Perunovich had played 12 games in AHL before his call-up. He scored two goals and assisted with 18 assists.

Blues Defense Chipping in

While the club continues to deal with unexpected injuries, COVID absences and other issues, their blueliners are stepping up big. Torey Krug and Colton Parayko have scored 11 points each in the six previous games. Krug has six.

Related: 5 players that may not return to the Blues during the 2022-23 season

Krug’s second season has been a marked improvement on his disappointing debut. Known for his offensive abilities, the 5-foot-9 defenseman has been seeing consistent time on the second-pairing unit and quarterbacking the teams’ first power-play unit. This season, Krug has five goals and 18 points in 29 games and he’s trending upward. Krug hasn’t produced more 50 points per season since 2018-19, when he scored six and 53 goals respectively in 64 games for the Boston Bruins.

2 Storylines: Capitals (20-6-8)

Ovechkin’s Age is Just a Number

Alexander Ovechkin is showing no signs of slowing down, proving that he still has plenty of gas. He is 36 years old and ranks second in the NHL, with 24 goals, and third in points, with 50 through 34 matches. 42 of those have been in his last 30 games. While he has only played the Blues twenty times in his NHL career, he has made good use of them by scoring 18 goals and 31 point. 

Ovechkin is breaking NHL scoring records every season, most recently with the latest surpassing Dave AndreychukAt 275, he holds the record for most career power play goals. He celebrated New Year’s Eve with his own fireworks, claiming the record against the Detroit Red Wings. After signing a five-year contract extension in July, Ovechkin entered his 17th NHL season bent on capturing Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record of 894 goals. 

Washington Lineup: A Revolving Door for Players

The Capitals’ lineup has been a revolving door with only seven players consistently in the lineup in the The last 11 games date back to December 1. Since Sunday afternoon’s game against the New Jersey Devils, the team has not played. Peter Laviolette, head coach, used this time to conduct a mini-training camp. However, in that time, veteran forwards T.J. Oshie and Nickas Backstrom suffered non-COVID-related illnesses and missed Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice. They were back on Thursday but are unavailable for tonight’s game in St. Louis. 

In addition to the absences of Backstrom and Oshie, defenseman Dmitry Orlov suffered an upper-body injury during Tuesday’s practice Additionally, Ovechkin will not be in the lineup. Ovechkin and John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Carl Hagelin will be the Capitals’ only players for each of the 34 games this season.

You should be paying attention to players

St. Louis: Ivan Barbashev – In a career year, the Russian forward is projected to take the top left-wing spot alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Pavel Buchnevich. Barbashev scored 13 points in 11 of his most recent games.

Capitals: Lars Eller – The former Blue has four goals and seven points in his last 12 games.

Combinations of projected lines

St. Louis Blues

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Ivan Barbashev Ryan O’Reilly Pavel Buchnevich
Brayden Schenn Robert Thomas Jordan Kyrou
Brandon Saad Oskar Sundqvist David Perron
Logan Brown Tyler Bozak Klim Kostin
Left Defense Right defense
Niko Mikkola Colton Parayko
Torey Krug Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella Scott Perunovich
Starting Goalie
Ville Husso

Pittsburgh Penguins

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Alex Ovechkin Evgeny Kuznetsov Garnet Hathaway
Conor Sheary Lars Eller Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin Nic Dowd Brett Leason
Daniel Sprong Connor McMichael Aliaksei Protas
Left Defense Right defense
Martin Fehervary John Carlson
Trevor van Riemsdyk Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin Justin Schultz
Starting Goalie
Ilya Samsonov

Blues’ Next Game: Sunday, Jan. 9, versus Dallas Stars (1 PM CST)

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe