NBCSN Wednesday Night Preview

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Michael Finewax
·7 min read
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There are two games on the NBCSN schedule Wednesday as the St. Louis Blues are in Minnesota to take on the Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights host the Colorado Avalanche in the late game.

Editor’s Note: The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild face off Wednesday on NBCSN starting at 6:00 pm ET. Livestream all the action here.

ST. LOUIS AT MINNESOTA

The Blues are sitting fourth in the West after defeating Colorado Monday night while Arizona dropped a decision to San Jose.

Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron are the offensive stars of the Blues as O'Reilly has 20 goals and 45 points this season while Perron has 14 goals and 45 points. Brayden Schenn snapped a 19-game goalless drought on Monday with his 13th of the season as the trio make up the first line.

The Blues have had problems scoring as they have only 133 goals in 46 games. Vladimir Tarasenko has not been an offensive force since returning to the lineup 22 games ago. Tarasenko underwent off-season shoulder surgery and has not been an offensive force as his goal Monday was only the fourth of the season. Mike Hoffman is tied for second in goals with 14 but he has also been a disappointment this season. Jaden Schwartz has only six tallies in 31 games.

The blueline lost Alex Pietrangelo in the off-season to free agency and were hoping Torey Krug would take his place but the former Bruin has only one goal this season although he has 25 assists. Vince Dunn and Colton Parayko missed Monday’s game. Parayko is questionable Wednesday while Dunn is out.

The goaltending is led by Jordan Binnington who evened his record at 14-14-5 Monday, stopping 31 shots in a 4-1 win. He has a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage. He has been spotty this season and the Blues need him to be great if they intend on garnering a playoff berth and moving on to the second round.

The Wild are on a seven-game winning streak. It was thought at the beginning of the season that Minnesota would fight it out with Arizona for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West but they have been great this season and are sitting third, just five points out of first.

One of the top surprises of free agency has been the play of netminder Cam Talbot. While Talbot was okay for Calgary last season, he was horrible two seasons ago in Edmonton. But he has turned it around in 2020-21 as he is 17-6-3 with a 2.33 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. Rookie goalie Kaapo Kahkonen was strong at the beginning of the season but is now the backup to Talbot.

Another rookie, Kirill Kaprizov, leads all first-year players with 22 goals and 41 points and should be a shoo-in for the Calder Trophy. Kevin Fiala is second on scoring with 32 points, three better than Mats Zuccarello.

Zach Parise was demoted to the fourth line and that move seemed to pick up his play as he scored four goals in five games but has reverted back to his old play as he is pointless in his last four.

The Minnesota power play was terrible to start the season as they managed to score only 12 times in the first 12 weeks. In the last three weeks however, they have been the best in the NHL, scoring 15 times in 34 chances. That’s a 44.1 percent success rate.

Jared Spurgeon is the top point-getter on the blueline with six goals and 19 points, one point better than Jonas Brodin, and two better than Matt Dumba. All three have six goals apiece.

Probable St. Louis Lineup

Brayden Schenn- Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Jaden Schwartz-Tyler Bozak-Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev-Robert Thomas-Jordan Kyrou

Sammy Blais -Steven Santini- Mike Hoffman

Marco Scandella-Justin Faulk

Jake Walman-Torey Krug

Robert Bortuzzo-Niko Mikkola

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

Probable Minnesota Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov-Victor Rask-Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Johansson- Ryan Hartman-Kevin Fiala

Marcus Foligno - Joel Eriksson Ek -Jordan Greenway

Zach Parise-Nico Sturm -Nick Bonino

Ryan Suter -Jared Spurgeon

Matt Dumba-Jonas Brodin

Ian Cole- Carson Soucy

Cam Talbot

Kaapo Kahkonen

COLORADO AT VEGAS

Editor’s Note: The Colorado Avalanche visit the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday on NBCSN starting at 9:30 pm ET. Livestream all the action here.

The Avalanche have been hard hit by COVID but they are finally getting healthy as two of their best players, Mikko Rantanen and goaltender Philipp Grubauer are recovering and are close to returning.

When healthy, the Avalanche have one of the top lines in the NHL (if not the best) as Nathan MacKinnon centers Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. MacKinnon has 60 points, which is third-best in the NHL while Rantanen is third in the league in goals with 26, trailing only Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid. Andre Burakovsky replaced Rantanen during the injury and acquitted himself quite well.

The Avs still get adequate secondary scoring from Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi and Valeri Nichushkin. Brandon Saad should be in that group but he is out two-four weeks with a lower-body injury.

Colorado has an outstanding blueline led by Cale Makar who should get consideration for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Samuel Girard is having a career year and the off-season trade for Devon Toews has been a huge positive for the Avs.

The goaltending situation is shaky with Grubauer out of action as both Jonas Johansson and Devan Dubnyk, who were not with the organization at the start of the season, have not given the Avs championship caliber goaltending that they will need to get to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Golden Knights are four points up on the Avs for first place heading into Sunday’s action.

They have the best goalkeeping tandem in the NHL with Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was outstanding earlier in the season and Lehner has overcome an early season injury and is sharing the job with Fleury at this time. Fleury is 21-10-2 with a 2.09 goals-against-average while Lehner has been just as good, going 12-1-2 with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

The blueline is really led by Shea Theodore although Alex Pietrangelo was the big-name off-season acquisition by Vegas. The signing forced Vegas to trade Nate Schmidt to Vancouver just to get under the salary cap and his play has been up-and-down this season as Pietrangelo has had to deal with COVID at the beginning of the season and a hand injury in March. Pietrangelo has only four goals and 16 points in 32 games while Theodore has seven goals and 40 points in 44 contests. Theodore has also quarterbacked the power play and has 14 assists without a goal on the man-advantage.

Their best player is Mark Stone who has a team-leading 53 points and is one of, if not the best, two-way forwards in the NHL. He should be one of the favorites for the Selke Trophy which goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL. His linemate Max Pacioretty has 22 goals in 45 games and is the Golden Knights top scorer. Chandler Stephenson completes the top line. The center had 12 goals and 29 points in 42 contests.

Don’t forget about players like Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Mattias Janmark who make up most of their middle-six forwards and are a major reason why the Golden Knights are so successful.

Probable Colorado Lineup

Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Andre Burakovsky

Carl Soderberg-Tyson Jost-Valeri Nichushkin

J.T. Compher-Nazem Kadri-Martin Kaut

Liam O'Brien-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Kiefer Sherwood

Devon Toews-Samuel Girard

Ryan Graves-Cale Makar

Patrik Nemeth-Conor Timmins

Devan Dubnyk

Jonas Johansson

Probable Vegas Lineup

Max Pacioretty-Chandler Stephenson-Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith

Dylan Sikura-Mattias Janmark-Alex Tuch

William Carrier -Keegan Kolesar-Dylan Coghlan

Alec Martinez -Alex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabb-Shea Theodore

Nicolas Hague-Zach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner

Marc-Andre Fleury