When the Blues started this road trip, I doubt anyone was cheering for a 2-2-2 record before the last game. Nonetheless, that's where we find ourselves tonight. While they didn't win, and had a few down shifts, the Blues did seem to bounce back during the LA game. If the Blues can keep things on the upward path, and gradually start getting healthier, there's no reason to worry about this bad stretch of games. One of the hallmarks of the Blues' success has been their depth, and that is being tested now. Hopefully, with some of the good news that's been reported lately, we should be seeing some of our boys gradually returning to the lineup soon. Grinding out wins with a depleted team, then getting healthier right before the end of the season, is a good way to enter the playoffs. Tonight, though, the Blues just need to keep on the path, and keep pushin' on...
The Enemy: The Coyotes have always seemed to be able to put up a fight and remain competitive since coach Dave Tippet took over. This year, they had an outstanding February, getting 23 out of a possible 24 points, not allowing a single regulation loss in that span. This has put them in the thick of the Pacific Division race. The top 4 teams in the Pacific are separated by 1 point, so there is no margin of error for any of those teams. You know they're giving it everything they can on every shift. They have cooled down in March. They have only gone 4-2-4 in their last ten games, and they will be missing their captain Shane Doan as he serves the last game of his suspension. Additionally, their Goals leader (30G/ 26A) Radim Vrbata has been day-to-day with an illness. This puts more pressure on overall points leader Ryan Whitney (23G/ 48A) to produce. So far he has, and he's currently riding a 7-game point streak. Others will also have to pick up the slack. Defenseman Derek Morris will be playing in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight.
Goaltender Mike Smith has been a pleasant surprise for the Coyotes this year. He played last night, a 4-3 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. This season he's put up good numbers (2.36 GAA / .920 SV%) and has been a big part of their late-season drive. Despite playing last night, JR of the Post says that he'll be starting again tonight. Should things change, the backup is no slouch - Jason LaBarbera has put up a 2.45 GAA and a .910 stat line.
Final Verse: The Puck drops 8:00 PM St Louis time, with the GDT dropping shortly beforehand. The broadcasts are on the usual outlets, Fox Sports MW for TV and KMOX 1120 AM for the radio call. If you should happen to be watching the PHX feed, you'll hear former Blues forward Tyson Nash doing the color. In the meantime, consider this your pregame warmup. Gather here, express your fatigue about the Coyotes ownership drama, express your fatigue at the Blues ownership drama, adjust your Jaden Schwartz goals-scored forecasts, and hopefully we can conclude this road trip with a solid win. Whenever I think about desert showdowns, I think of this fantastic scene...
Antonio Banderas (via CCRR77)