The Blues are riding high as they come in to Columbus tonight. With former BJs Coach Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, the Blues are 6-1-2. We still need help on the abysmal PP, but despite that they just keep winning. How much longer does the "new-coach bump" last? How is that measured? I don't know when one ends, and the next chapter begins. If the "bump" comes from the size of the coach, we could be riding this for a while longer, though. Enjoy it while it lasts, Blues fans, enjoy it while it lasts.
The Enemy: The Blue Jackets are the current cellar-dwellers of the league. With 22 games played, the BJs have a record of 6-13-3. They seem to have turned a corner, though, as they have gotten at least a charity point in each of their last 5 games (3-0-2). The centerpiece of the BJ offense is, of course, Rick Nash, who leads the team with 7 goals (7G/10A). The overall points leader is Vinny Prospal with 19 points (6G /13A). Prospal just celebrated playing in his 1,000th-career NHL game. One of the many sub-plots to this match-up is the starting goaltender. For CBus, they have seen a backup usurp the starting role from the struggling starter, and the Blues will be facing a familiar face tonight in Curtis Sanford. In 5 starts, he is 3-0-2 and has posted stats of 1.27 GAA and .950 GAA. As well as he is already playing, I'm sure that he'll be extra-pumped to play his old team. Steve Mason is back from injury, but right now Sanford is the hot hand and is considered likely to start tonight. This is also the first matchup for Kris Russell and Nikita Nikitin since being traded for each other. As the BJ beat reporter tweeted, sometimes trades work out for both teams, Russell has gone 2-1-3, and is +4 in 7 games. Nikitin has 5 points, all assists, and is +3 in 7 games. Also, of course, a lot of the CBJ players will be familiar with Hitch from his time behind the Columbus bench. Hitchcock insists that there's no emotion behind facing his old team.
One thing that may particularly help the Blues: While the St Louis PP is league-worst, tonight we'll be facing the 2nd-worst PK (74.7% kill rate, only CHI is worse). This would seem to be a good time to turn things around on special teams.
Final Verse: The puck drops at an odd time tonight, at 5:00 PM St Louis time. The GDT should be along shortly beforehand. The broadcasts are on the usual outlets, TV is FoxSports MW and the radio is KMOX 1120 AM. Until then, this is your pre-game warmup. Gather here, take bets on who gets Oshie'd first, celebrate the continuance of this rivalry, and mourn the end of MoVember and Ray Barille's epic 'stache. Also, does this EVER get old?
TJ OSHIE HITS RICK NASH AGAIN (BLUES HOME VERSION) (via fhnhockey077)