Both teams have hit the skids as of late and will be trying to prove their worth more to themselves than the opposition. Will the Blues defense show up for the entire game tonight, or will another customary period off cost the team their third loss in a row?
Good penalty killing will probably not be on display tonight from either team, and that could be an issue for the Blues. Sure, they have the top ranked power play in the league, and that's outstanding. Bully for them. The power play goal that they scored Tuesday night did an absolute world of good, didn't it? No? Oh, that must be because the team has decided that defense is optional. If they don't kill penalties well (and they haven't been - their 73.7% rate on the kill is 24th in the league), and if they don't defend at even strength, it doesn't matter how well Brian Elliott decides to play tonight. There's going to be a problem.
On the flip side, Detroit's penalty kill is a scant 68.8%, so if the Blues can get them to take a call here or there, it might be the difference in the game. The Blues can't get frustrated and take any bad calls (refs notwithstanding; that's obviously out of their control). The Wings'll make them pay again; at least against Detroit the Blues have that exact same chance too. They're six for 10 on the power play against the Wings, so penalties will probably be the game changer for sure.
Both teams have lost two in a row, and both teams are upset. Needless to say, they'll each come out of the gate looking to make up for recent embarrassments. It's easy to say "oh! The Wings aren't playing well this year, so we can take them!" If the Blues can win isn't up to ability -- it's up to will to win. If they're flat, they lose. They haven't lost three in a row since February of 2011, but it'd been a while since they dropped six goals on home ice, too.
Brian Elliott will be back in tonight. His last start against Nashville wouldn't've been as nasty as it was had a couple own goals had not gone in, but he needs to be sharper. He also needs to be more vocal; if his own guys are screening them, they need to move. That was the issue on the fourth goal that got Ells pulled on Tuesday. It shouldn't be an issue again. Jimmy Howard has played every game this month for the Wings, and could probably use a break. It's still doubtful that Mike Babcock put in call-up Petr Mrazek. If Mrazek is in, and if the Blues are sharp a full three periods, this could be a good, solid win for them.