Ducks, Blues focus on present, not future draft position

As the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks play out their disappointing seasons, their fans can focus on their team’s NHL draft lottery odds instead of their playoff chances.

The Blues (32-33-6, 70 points) still have mathematical life in the playoff race heading into Saturday’s game in Anaheim. But through Thursday’s games they had the ninth-best odds of earning the first overall pick and the right to draft top prospect Connor Bedard.

They hurt their chances in the lottery by going 5-2-1 in their last eight games.

“He’s a good player, a special player, but any guy that puts on their (Blues) jersey isn’t worried about Connor Bedard,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “That’s the reality of being on the team right now.”

The Ducks (22-39-10, 56 points) have already been eliminated from postseason play. They had the fourth-best odds of getting Bedard through Thursday’s games, after going 1-4-1 in the first six games of their eight-game homestand.

But Anaheim is coming off Thursday’s well-played 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, who are fighting to reach the postseason.

“We obviously don’t have the playoff race in our minds, but anytime we can create those sorts of situations and be in tight games, I think it’s a good thing for us,” Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said.

The Blues are coming off a 4-3 victory in Detroit on Thursday. They won despite playing without defenseman Torey Krug, who stayed home to be with his wife and newborn child, and center Robert Thomas, who missed the game with illness after participating in the pregame warmup.

Both are expected to face the Ducks. In the absence of Thomas, Schenn shouldered the workload as the No. 1 center and took 28 faceoffs.

“He did an excellent job tonight,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I thought he was a real good player for us. Lot of faceoffs. Played a heavy game. Nice tip goal at the net, being around the net.”

Berube is looking for his reconfigured front lines to generate more consistent offensive pressure. Even perimeter shots have value if the Blues are positioned to create screens, tip pucks and convert rebounds.

“I still don’t think we’re shooting enough pucks,” Berube said. “But we’ve got to keep working on it and get better it. We talked about shooting more pucks from (outside).”

While continuing to build for the future, the Ducks are taking longer looks at some of their younger players. Lukas Dostal got the start in goal against the Jets and made 30 saves.

“He’s just dipping his toe in the water here,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “It’s important that we really try to get him as many reps as we can, and that’s what we’re going to try to do down the stretch here.”

The Blues won their previous two games against the Ducks at home, 6-2 on Nov. 19 and 3-1 two days later.

Pavel Buchnevich (two goals, three assists), Thomas (goal, three assists), Jordan Kyrou (four assists) and Schenn (goal, two assists) were all productive during those two games.

Goaltender Jordan Binnington won both games for the Blues, who turned to Joel Hofer in their last four games. John Gibson was in net for Anaheim’s previous games with the Blues.