Vladimir Tarasenko returns for face off against the St. Louis Blues

New York Rangers, Vladimir Tarasenko #91(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Rangers, Vladimir Tarasenko #91(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues are in action tonight for a 8:00 PM ET puck drop. This will be the second and final meeting between these two teams, with the first contest going in favor of the Rangers on Dec. 5, where they won 6-4 in New York.

St. Louis will be running out the same lineup as they did Tuesday night against Philadelphia, except defenseman Dmitri Samorukov, who was acquired from Edmonton in a trade for F Klim Kostin. Pavel Buchnevich is back in the lineup, moving Kasperi Kapanen down to 3rd line center.  Logan Brown is now out of the lineup, and the 4th line stays the same.

Jordan Binnington will be in net for the Blues. Binnington in his career against the Rangers is 2-2-0, with a GAA of 3.07 and an .876 save percentage.

As for the Rangers lineup, both Patrick Kane and Jacob Trouba are listed as questionable for tonight’s game. Kane did not play last night in Tampa Bay, and Trouba got hurt and did not return last night as well. Other than that, everyone is good to go.

Jaroslav Halak is the projected starting goalie for New York tonight. Halak has started 4 games in his career against the Blues and is 0-3-1 with a GAA of 4.21 and a .867 save percentage.

Players to watch in Vladimir Tarasenko’s return to St. Louis.

Vladimir Tarasenko: Tarasenko will return to St. Louis for the first time since being traded to New York on February 9th. Tarasenko has put up 7 goals, 10 assists, and 17 points for the Rangers in 27 games.

Tarasenko played in 644 total games as a Blue, so expect him to get a warm welcome tonight as he makes his return.

Sammy Blais: Blais was traded back to the Blues in the Tarasenko deal, and he’s been spectacular for them since coming back. Blais scored 0 goals in his Rangers tenure, but since coming back to the Blues he’s scored 8 goals, 11 assists for 19 points in 27 games.

So, Tarasenko and Blais have played the exact same number of games, and Blais has 1 more goal, one more assist and two more assists than Tarasenko overall.  That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that Blais was pretty much a throw into that deal. The Blues were much more focused on getting good draft capital back when making that deal, so Blais’ great performance is an added bonus.

Who has the advantage?

The Rangers have big playoff aspirations, while the Blues are playing their season out. Teams down the stretch that have something to play for come out more willing to win, so I’m going advantage Rangers in this matchup.