Vancouver Canucks (+149) at St. Louis Blues (-165, 5 o/u)
Both the Vancouver Canucks (43-27-5, 91 pts) and St. Louis Blues (46-22-7, 99 pts) currently occupy playoff spots in the Western Conference, but both have also struggled of late and are in need of two points to solidify their postseason seeding when they clash tonight at the Scottrade Center in Saint Louis (8:00 PM Eastern).
Vancouver is trying to hold onto the second playoff berth in the Pacific Division. Consecutive losses to the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars haven’t helped the cause, and the team – which recently won five of six – now finds itself just two points up on Calgary and three clear of L.A in the division race.
Tonight marks the start of a tough four-game mid-west road trip for Vancouver.
“It’s a big challenge that we’ve got ahead with Chicago, Nashville, [Winnipeg,] and St. Louis,” coach Willie Desjardins said. “You can play good hockey in their buildings and not win. We’ve got to play well and hopefully we’ll get something.”
St. Louis, meanwhile, has virtually locked up a playoff spot, but is in a fight for first-overall in the Central Division and home-ice advantage in the playoffs. The Blues have dropped four of five, though, and currently trail Nashville by three points for the division lead.
Making matters worse, the team isn’t sure if it will have left winger Alexander Steen or right winger T.J. Oshie for tonight’s meeting against Vancouver; neither played in the Blues’ 4-2 loss to Columbus on Saturday and both are listed as questionable for today’s game.
“It was obviously two really big pieces that did not play,” forward Patrik Berglund said of their absence. “We sure do need them every night so hopefully they’ll be OK and back soon.”
St. Louis is a decent sized favorite, sitting at -165 in the moneyline; a Vancouver win will pay at +149 and the over/under is at 5. But the trends favor the ‘Nucks, who have won eight of the last ten meetings with the Blues, outscoring St. Louis 28-19.
(Photo credit: Sarah Connors (ERI_4800 Uploaded by Dolovis) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)