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Blues @ Leafs Preview: I'll be in the cold, cold ground before I ever recognize Missourah

The Leafs play their first game of 2016, hosting the St. Louis Blues on Hockey Night in Canada.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues @ Toronto Maple Leafs

Air Canada Centre; Toronto, ON

7:00 p.m. ET; CBC (National)

Enemy at the Gates: St. Louis Game Time

Matchup

Disappointing day, so far, isn't it? Canada is en route to their worst World Juniors finish since 1998, but it could be worse. Mitch Marner had two goals, so it's pretty good he is going to be a Leaf. Meanwhile, Jake Virtanen is bad, so be blessed he was drafted before the Leafs pick, leaving William Nylander on the board. You just know Nonis would've taken him.

Anyway, moving to the NHL, the Leafs host the St. Louis Blues tonight. The Leafs have been decent of late, going 6-2-2 in their last ten and 6-4-2 in the month of December. One of those wins was a 4-1 domination of these same Blues on December 5. That isn't to discount the Blues, however; they're second in the Central Division (and the West) with 50 points, and 6 wins in their last 9 games.

Unsurprisingly, leading the Blues in scoring is Vladimir Tarasenko, with 39 points in 38 GP. Alex Steen, with 35 points in 40 GP, isn't far behind. He's a former Leaf, so I think we all know how this is gonna go.

Expected Leafs Lineup

Per Paul Hendrick, no lineup changes expected from Wednesday's game. Jonathan Bernier will get the start, as James Reimer is being held out with a recurring groin issue (insert Species joke here) and Garret Sparks is still recovering from injury.

Grabner - Kadri - Komarov

van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Parenteau

Winnik - Arcobello - Lupul

Matthias - Holland - Boyes

Gardiner - Phaneuf

Hunwick - Rielly

Marincin - Polak

Bernier

Expected Blues Lineup

Per Jeremy Rutherford of St. Louis Today, the Blues have shuffled their lines for tonight's game. Jake Allen will get the start in the Blues' net tonight. Here were the lines at Blues morning skate:

Alex Steen - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund - David Backes - Magnus Paajarvi

Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Kyle BrodziakRyan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Colton Parayko - Carl Gunnarsson

Jake Allen

Nostalgic Leafs-Blues Highlight

I was at this game, so I couldn't post anything but the classic Mikhail Grabovski spin-o-rama shootout game from Jan. 6, 2011. The Leafs would win this game 6-5 in a shootout (after blowing a 5-2 lead, of course). Kris Versteeg scored for the Leafs in this game, in case you wanted a reminder he was ever a Leaf.

Prediction

A team that employed Olli Jokinen in 2014-15 will win this game.