As blah as this last week has been, the big-picture view is still pretty damn good for the Blues. While we still have work to do, we're still in a nice position. The Blues are in 2nd place in the Central, with a 2 point lead over 3rd, and a 10 point lead over the wildcard position teams. That, and games in hand against everyone. In the realigned NHL, your record in your own division means so much more than in years past. For the Blues, that would be 13-0-1. It doesn't get much better than that ( Damn you, Winnipeg! )! So, there's plenty there to give you confidence, but if you really want to get enthusiastic, just look at the schedule...
You know, I hated seeing these guys go. Just as they were getting more fun to watch, they escape to the East. The clocks have been ticking down on this team, and it looks like their time at the top is just about over. Hopefully, our boys in blue are angry at their performance these past couple of games, and decide to take it out on the Red Wings.
When Detroit left for the Eastern Conference, it was thought that they'd be a juggernaut and a sure-fire lock for a playoff spot. That hasn't been the case, though: They are 5th in the Atlantic Division with a record of 21-17-10. They've only won 4 of their last 10 games, and the most recent one was largely due to a lucky break that could only happen to Detroit. They are particularly bad at home: their home record of 7-10-7 is tied with the Flames and the Islanders for fewest home wins in the league. So much for the paradise of Hockeytown. Added to their misery were the cameras of HBO 24/7 to catch it all, the lost Winter Classic game, and also a mounting injury problem. Daniel Alfredsson (back) and Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) are both considered Day-to-Day, while Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Jonathan Ericsson (Fractured Ribs), Johan Franzen (Concussion), Darren Helm (groin), Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are all on Injured Reserve.
Those injuries account for most of the best possession players they have - the highest 5v5 Corsi player that is healthy is Tomas Tatar, so it would seem that he'd be the guy to watch out for. Obviously, you also have to be aware of Henrik Zetterberg whenever he's on the ice as well. Zetterberg leads the team in points (38 on 15 goals, 23 assists), while Datsyuk is right behind with 32 points (15g, 17a). Alfredsson is next with 30 points (11g, 19a), and top 5 are rounded out with Niklas Kronwall (5g, 24a for 29 points) and Johan Franzen (9g, 13a for 22 points). So, that's 3 of their top 5 scorers out with injury. No surprise, then, that they've been sinking at the speed of sound.
As for goaltending, they are led by Olympian Third-Wheel Jimmy Howard . In 28 starts, he has a 9-11-8 record with a 2.58 GAA and .917 save percentage. His back-up (while Gustavsson is out) is the vowel-deficient Petr Mrazek. He has 4 starts, amassing 1-3-0 record and 1.60 GAA and .923 Save Percentage.
Final Verse: Now that we're back on an Eastern Conference run, it's another early start. The opening faceoff is 6:30 St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on FoxSports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120. The GDT should drop just before the puck does. Until then, this is your pregame warmup. Blow the dust off your Detroit hate, wax nostalgic about past match-ups, and remember, it's cold in the D:
for the brave, the full song is available here. Also, if you have time to kill, there are several reaction videos on You Tube that are fucking hysterical (BoC +1).