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Preview: Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues

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FINALLY......THE JETS...HAVE COME BACK...TO ST.LOUIS!

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues
Feb 23, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) fights with Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault (85) during the third period at Scottrade Center.
Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

Where to watch/listen

Broadcast Schedule
Broadcast Schedule
Time: 7:00 P.M. CDT
TV: TSN3, FS-NW
Radio: TSN1290, KMOX 1120

It all begins tonight. No more speculation, no more projections. Just good old fashioned ice puck hockey!

The Winnipeg Jets and the St. Louis Blues get their 2018-19 seasons underway tonight, each looking to improve on last season.

For the Blues, they will be looking to return to the post-season after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2011. The Blues narrowly missed out, losing in their 82nd game of the year to the Colorado Avalanche, who leapfrogged them to take the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues took action in the off-season, bringing in Ryan O’Reilly via trade with the Buffalo Sabres, and free agents Patrick Maroon, Tyler Bozak, David Perron and Chad Johnson. They add to a Blues lineup that already includes Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo, with Jake Allen in net.

Winnipeg bolstered their lineup in the off-season by...getting better due to age? The young Jets lineup gets another year closer to its prime, as their opening night active roster is the second youngest in the NHL, behind only the Carolina Hurricanes (25.8 years old compared to 25.4). Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, and Jack Roslovic are all guys getting better. And they’re all old dudes compared to 19-year-old Kristian Vesalainen, who makes his NHL debut tonight.

In the battle of the netminders, Jake Allen will be hoping to bounce back after a pretty meh 2017-18 season in which he posted a .906 save percentage that dragged his career average down to .913. He has shown he’s capable of better things, and will need to be unless the Blues think his back-up Chad Johnson is going to cut it.

Connor Hellebuyck came in second in Vezina voting last season, and could and should contend for the award again this year. Defenders Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey promise to once again tackle tough minutes as they too should only be getting better at this point in their careers.

It should be a good test for both teams in the Chess Capital of the World.

Enemy Territory

St. Louis Blues Coverage: St. Louis Game Time

Last Jets (Pre-Season) Game:

New Jersey Devils 5-3 Winnipeg Jets

Not the greatest showing in the final tune-up before the season, but that doesn’t matter now.

Last Blues (Pre-Season) Game:

Washington Capitals 5-2 St. Louis Blues

Four goals in the third period did the trick for the Capitals, though it was hardly a notable lineup for the Blues, unless you count Chris Thorburn, who has since been sent down to the minors. This was the game in which Tom Wilson blindsided Oskar Sundqvist, earning himself a 20-game suspension.

Players to watch:

Winnipeg Jets

NHL: Preseason-Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

If he wants a shot at the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy this year, Patrik Laine needs to start off his season faster than he did last season. In 11 games during the month of October, Laine scored just 4 of his 44 goals on the season, as he ended up second in the goal scoring race behind Alex Ovechkin and his 49 goals. Ovechkin did shoot the puck 114 more times than Laine did though...

St. Louis Blues

NHL: Preseason-St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Based on my sleuthing, it appears that Patrick Maroon is slated to start the season on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. After a breakout season with Edmonton in 2016-17 that saw him score 27 goals, his goal total fell to 17 last year while splitting time between the Oilers and the Devils. The Blues are going to need more of that 27 goal stuff if they are to return to the playoffs.

Check in later today for our Game Day Thread.