This week might be the most critical one in the Blues season, as St. Louis faces four conference foes they are chasing in the standings.
The week started off with a home tilt against division rival Blackhawks. After a tight 4-3 loss, the Blues are 0-4 against the Hawks this year. All 4 games separated by just a goal (one game was a 3-1 score with empty netter).
The Blues have had their chances against Chicago outshooting them 101-92 in the first 3 games. The difference might be power play chances where St. Louis has had only 3 opportunities in 3 games going 0-3. Meanwhile the guys in stripes have assessed 12 power play chances for the Hawks which they converted on 2 of them. The last one coming with under five minutes left in last game allowing for the game winner to be scored by Kailer Yamamoto.
On Wednesday, the Blues make the trip North to face Edmonton. This will be the first meeting of the clubs this year. Edmonton might be ripe for the picking, losers of their last 2 and 3 of 4. They’ll had a long trip home from Buffalo on Monday night, but are coming off a 3-1 victory against the Sabres.
When asked about Edmonton Blues coach Michel Therrien said, “they have a very strong defense, good goaltending and seem to roll 4 lines against teams. They will be tough to play against.”
The Blues will hop the red eye and head home after the Oilers game to face the Avalanche on Thursday. This will be the fourth meeting between the clubs this season and we look for things to heat up again between the two clubs.
In the first meeting of the season Blues came away with a 5-4 Shootout win but the game was marred by an ugly boarding penalty by Antoine Roussel. The second game Colorado won 3-2 on a late 3rd period goal from Cody Eakin. The game featured 3 fights including a spirit tilt between Matthew Tkachuk of the Avalanche and Tom Wilson of Blues.
Game 3 on February 22 was a 5-3 win for Colorado as they chased Carter Hart from the net midway through the second period. Several Blues players had comments regarding 6’0 Nick Folingo jumping 5’9 Torey Krug and beating him up. Wilson was quoted as saying "we have got his number, don’t you worry."
Therrien was asked if Blues planned on calling up Zac Rinaldo or 6’7 defenceman Logan Stanley who has 3 fights in the AHL and one at the pro level in his four games.
“Springfield plays on Thursday night in Manitoba “said Therrien. “Those guys are important to that team. I’m not sure we can afford to have those guys up here. We’ll be fine and trust me Foligno won’t take liberties with our stars without paying the consequences for his actions.”
Finally, the fourth game of the week the Blues head to LA (scheduler needs a map) to face the Kings on Saturday. In the first meeting LA skated away with a 4-2 victory (with an empty net goal). Blues were assessed 7 minor penalties to 0 for the Kings. The Kings capitalized on 2 of those powerplay while given up a shorthand goal to Kane of the Blues.
Asked what the team needs to do this week when asked Therrien responded, “we need to get good goaltending. We haven’t got good goaltending in these conference games. We need to stay out of the box and limit our opponents powerplay chances."
Coach Therrien hinted Ryan Miller would be in net for at least two games this week as Carter Hart looks to find his game. He also said there could be some line juggling.
While we are only halfway point of the season, Blues GM Todd Snider is looking at this as a tell-tale week of how his squad stacks up against conference rivals. Win at least 3 of those games and the Blues are in good shape. Have a disastrous week and go 1-3 or 0-4 and could we see more changes to the Blues roster?
Stay tuned for an interesting week!!