The Blues have had a few days off to think about their recent skid. I hope most Blues fans can realize how lucky we are to consider a 1-3-0 run as a major problem. We have about 2/3rds of the season left to go, and we're off to a good start. With the realigned standings and playoff format, the division games and standings mean so much more than in years past. The Blues currently sit 2nd in the Central Division with a record of 19-6-3, and with a division record of 9-0-1. Tonight, the Blues have a chance to improve on that record with a rebound win over the Winnipeg Thrasher-Jets. While the Blues are a long, long way from home (unless your name is Alexander Steen or Ryan Reaves), it's just a one-game road trip, and the last time we see the 'Peg this year. In the last 6 games between the two teams, the Blues are 4-0-2. There is an urgent need to get off to a quick start. If the players understand that, and act accordingly, there's no reason we can't extend that points streak.
The Jets seem to be in turmoil this year. The honeymoon is over, and the fans are no longer thrilled with just having a team. They want results - wins- and this team hasn't been providing much this far. The record of 14-13-4 and 32 points is only good enough for 2-worst in the Central (3 points above Nashville). Now, in the "Meh"tropolitan division, that'd be a top 3 playoff seed. In the tough Central, though, that is 7 points out from even a wild card spot. Good time to start the draft scouting, eh? Even before the season started, many folks in the know considered Jets head coach Claude Noel to be on the hot seat. That still continues, and fans are also criticizing the GM's construction of the team, whilst the local media are calling out players. Sounds like there could be some head games going on there.
The Jets have gone 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, and are coming off an overtime win in Tampa, wrapping up a 4-2 road trip. Their path is hindered with the absence of Zach Bogosian (groin - IR) and franchise player Evander Kane (day to day with the dreaded Lower Body Injury). Their starting netminder is Ondrej Pavelec, who has posted a record of 10-11-36 and a 2.76 GAA / .914 Save Percentage stat line. He's backed up by Al Montoya (2.23 / .922).
Winnipeg is led in both points and goals by Bryan Little (12G , 15A), followed by Dustin Byfuglien (6G, 16A) and captain Andrew Ladd (8G, 13A). There's also Grant Clitsome - nowhere up there in scoring, I just like the name Clitsome. Where the Blues are 2nd in the league on the Power Play at 24.3%, the Jets are at the bottom - a league worst 10.8%. That could be useful, as Puck Daddy recently published an article about who draws and commits the most penalties. That included two Jets players as among the league's worst with a -7 : Evander Kane and Olli Jokinen . Alas, our own Patrik Berglund made an appearance as well, a -9 in penalties.
Speaking of the TechnoViking, he's had points in two consecutive games now, and just might be coming out of a slump. Keep your eye on him. He needs 2 more points to have 200 in his NHL career, all with the Blues. Derek Roy is 1 assist shy of 300 for his career, and Brenden Morrow is 4 short of the same mark. Alexander Steen is 1 goal from having 100 as a Blues player. Let's hit them all tonight, eh? #Roywatch!!
Final Verse: Thankfully, a Canadian team in our own time zone. The opening faceoff will be at the "normal" 7:00 St Louis time. The TV broadcast will be on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. The GDT will drop shortly ahead of the puck. Until then, consider this your pregame warmup. Gather here, bitch about how cold it is here, be dumbstruck at how much colder it is there, and find yourself a hot cocoa or -better yet- an Irish Coffee to warm yourself. When people talk about Winnipeg, it makes me think it's like this other hockey town I've heard of...
Mystery, Alaska Trailer (via Epsilon023)