The Blues faced a big test last night in a game against Dallas. Not that the Stars are that great of a team, but as a group, they have had the Blues' number for a year and a half, handing the Note losses in five straight games. The big test was to avoid the Steve Ott Vortex, focus on shooting early and often on a shaky goaltending pair and, above all, at any cost, get the two points.
Aside from a couple late goals that allowed the Stars to climb back into the game, the Blues did everything they wanted to do to the Stars and got the all-important points.
Tonight in Detroit, the Blues face a different test. The Red Wings have been beaten by the Blues twice already this year and seemed to be a bit surprised both times by the tenacity of the Note players. This isn't the Blues of the last few years - teams that, even when they were playing a good game, would inevitably have a letdown of several minutes that allowed the Red Wings to capitalize and score a couple goals and get another win.
These Red Wings aren't as good as the teams of the past; previous editions of the red menace wouldn't have been caught unprepared for the Blues' changes twice, but they're still a good team. I think Mike Babcock is overrated, but he's not a complete moron (though his "God touched Alex Pietrangelo with his wand" comment may be working against me on this point), so he'll no doubt have his team adjusted and ready to play a better game against St. Louis tonight.
Fans of the evil empire will almost universally say this isn't an important game while Blues fans will almost universally disagree with them. I'd be willing to bet Red Wings coaches would agree with us. If they lose to the Blues again, but this time on home ice, they will have to admit that maybe they aren't as good as the Blues. If they get the win, not only does it push them ahead of St. Louis in the standings, but it gives their players confidence that nothing has changed: they're still one of the best teams in the West and the Blues are still a streaky team that is not to be worried about much.
After this test, the Blues face another one against the boring Predators at home followed by yet another test in Detroit against the Wings again. Ken Hitchcock has had his players prepared and ready for nearly every exam so far and there's no reason to believe he won't have them ready to go tonight.
Game is at 6:30 on Versus, on the radio on KMOX and right here for those of you who can type, snark, watch and drink all at the same time. Game Day Thread this bi-yotch.