VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Blues faced 6-foot-4 Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko on Oct. 17, scoring three times in regulation in what became a 4-3 shootout loss. It’s the only time Demko, who’s third in the league with a 1.78 goals-against average in five starts, has allowed more than two goals.
Tonight they’re scheduled to face Jacob Markstrom, who is even taller at 6-6.
“We created a lot of chances in that (Oct. 17) game,” coach Craig Berube said. “We actually played a pretty good game. But our shots weren’t right in the right spots. The big guys, they get in the way.
“I think tonight we gotta do a little bit better job where we’re shooting it. But also we’re gonna have to go to the net hard — the rebounds and things like that. We’re gonna have to get some dirty goals.”
Is it more important to keep the taller goalies moving?
“If you can get ‘em moving laterally, for sure,” Berube said. “That’s a tough thing for most goalies, you know?”
Markstrom, 29, is 3-4 over his career against the Blues with a 2.60 goals-against and a save percentage of .904.
MILESTONE FOR BOUWMEESTER
Tonight marks the 1,200th regular-season game for Blues defensive Jay Bouwmeester. That’s the fourth-highest total among active players in the NHL, topped only by Patrick Marleau (1,668), Joe Thornton (1,581) and Zdeno Chara (1,499). Chara hits the 1,500 mark tonight for Boston against Montreal.
“It’s a great accomplishment on his part,” Berube said of Bouwmeester. “He’s a great pro and keeps himself in great shape. Hard-working guy. He’s still going. He’s doing a good job.”
THIRD LINE? NO PROBLEM
Sammy Blais has spent 11 of his first 13 games on either the Ryan O’Reilly line (eight games) or the Brayden Schenn line (three) — valuable real estate to be sure. But tonight he’s on the third line with Alexander Steen and Tyler Bozak, neither of whom have scored a goal this season.
But Blais, who is a lineup regular this season for the first time in the NHL, isn’t complaining. At this stage in his career, he’s just happy to be playing every night. (He missed two games with a thumb injury.)
“Whatever line I’m on, I’m just trying to do my job,” Blais said. “Play offense, be physical. I’ve been playing pretty good since the start of the season, so I just try to keep bringing some offense and energy to the team.”
Blais is tied for third on the team (with Alex Pietrangelo) with five goals, behind Schenn (10) and David Perron (seven).
Most morning skates are optional affairs, but the Blues had nearly a full roster — 18 of 22 players — on the ice Tuesday morning at Rogers Arena. The only players not skating were the team’s Big 4 defensemen: Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk.
That’s no coincidence. Tonight marks the front end of a back-to-back, with the Blues playing Wednesday in Edmonton. And those four D-men all are averaging more than 20 minutes a game, led by Pietrangelo (23.43), and followed by Parayko (22:52), Bouwmeester (21:07) and Faulk (20:38).
BLUES' PROJECTED LINEUP
VANCOUVER PROJECTED LINEUP
(Per @benkuzma of the Vancouver Province and Sun)
(After missing Saturday’s game against San Jose with a bruised knee, Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes is back in the lineup tonight. He was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft.)
• The last two games between the teams have been decided by a shootout, with the Canucks winning 4-3 on Oct. 17 on a Josh Leivo score and the Blues winning 3-2 in the 2018-19 regular-season finale on a Ryan O’Reilly score.
• Tonight is 1970’s night at Rogers Arena as the Canucks commemorate their 50th NHL season.
• Vancouver is 3-1-1 in its last five games against the Blues; but over the last 13 contests the Blues are 9-2-2 against the Canucks.
• O’Reilly enters tonight’s game riding a four-game point streak. He is tied for 15th in the NHL in points (16) on four goals and 12 assists.
• Perron has seven points in his last 4 games.