I know it's mid-January. I know the season runs until early April. I know it's not technically a big deal. But tonight is a big deal. If the Blues win in regulation tonight, they will tie the Vancouver Canucks with 57 points -- best in the Western Conference -- while also owning the first tiebreaker. The winner of this game will finish the night first in the conference. For the St. Louis Blues, that's a big deal.
First of all, it's not like this team has had a lot of success under the ownership of Dave Checketts. One magical run to the playoffs to be swept in four games by these mother Canuckers does not a dynasty make. Hockey fans in this town got spoiled with 25 consecutive playoff appearances (followed by 25 consecutive playoff exits). Having only the draft lottery to look forward to is not a good feeling. So the fact that the Blues could potentially lead the conference after the halfway point of the season counts as a big deal.
Remember, this team was going nowhere to start the season. Jaroslav Halak, Mayor of Montreal, got off to a horrendous start. The team had a losing record in early November costing Davis Payne his job. Things weren't going so well. And then they hired Ken Hitchcock, players started listening to a guy with a Cup on his resume. And here we are.
This team has a bunch of guys who have never won anything in the NHL. No one under 30 on the roster has won a cup. Only a couple have even won a playoff series (obviously Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner and Andy McDonald are the exceptions and older than 30). The core younger guys need to deal with some success to learn how to handle it. A win tonight would give them some experience.
The Blues haven't allowed a goal in more than 144 consecutive minutes. And befitting his recent tendencies, Hitchcock is spinning the goaltender wheel and going with Brian Elliott. He got the shutout his last time out and got to watch the next game from the Bench. Now Halak gets to do the same.
The Blues have the best home record in the entire NHL. They begin another long five-game home stand tonight. Hopefully it gets started on the right foot.
This is your game day thread. Comment like each dick joke is small fire set in downtown Vancouver after a demoralizing defeat.