Last night's game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild started off evenly matched enough after the first period, and then promptly went downhill after that. The Canucks ran roughshod over the Wild and their rookie goaltender, Darcy Kuemper in the second and the beginning of the third period, and added an extra goal against Ilya Byrzgalov to seal the deal. The final score, 5-2, is unacceptable for a team with a fairly good home record; how will it play on the road?
The Wild's road record is uninspired (14-16-6), and the Blues have walloped them the previous three times that they've met. Part of that has to do with the Wild's surprisingly awful penalty kill coupled with the Blues' power play, which still is pretty good (though how much of that is early-season padding/terrible team padding remains to be seen), and scores in bunches against teams that are meh and below.
The Wild are decidedly meh. They'll make the playoffs, but they don't seem to have much fight about them. They're 3-3-4 in their last ten games and are just floating along, seemingly happy to be in contention. They're complacent. They didn't play angry yesterday when they fell behind - they just kept falling. If the Blues can keep them on their heels, this game should not be a problem for St. Louis at all.
Both teams are close with shots per game and shots allowed per game (27 & 27.8 respectively for the Wild, 29.4/26.2 for the Blues), so whatever team is trying to win this needs to make their shots count. The top line of Steen, Oshie, and Backes seem to be reunited, and it's working so good - if the chemistry works, let it ride. The Blues need the points just as badly as the Wild. They've clilnched a playoff spot, but they're trying to clinch the first overall seed in the West, and are ahead of the San Jose Sharks by just two points. Every little bit helps, and if you can snag points against a flat team like what the Wild have become, then you get those two points.
The Wild haven't won in St. Louis since 2007. Let's extend that streak a little longer, shall we?