It is not often that I say this, but Steve Ott had a good game the other night.
His assist, four hits, perfect face off record were all nice to see, but him going after Corey Perry as retaliation for Shawn Horcoff's knee-on-knee hit on Vladimir Tarasenko was the gravy on Ott's mashed potatoes of a night. Do I expect that from Ott every night? No. Am I in agreement with coach Ken Hitchcock's assessment of Ott thus far this season?
"I think he’s being smarter with his energy," Hitchcock said. "I think he’s been smart with his positional play. That’s really helping him. He’s in the right spot, spacing on the ice is good. He’s creating turnovers, he’s got energy in the right places."
Ehh... a little bit.
Jake Allen will get the start tonight. After a little bit of a rough start, including two goals in 20 seconds against the Wild back on October 10th, he's righted the ship and has made the goaltending competition interesting again. His regular season numbers against the Wild aren't anything to write home about. He's played in just two games, split the results, and has a 2.63 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage. It's a small sample size, but it will be hard for fans to not think of the playoff series against Minnesota as well. If tonight ends as a loss, expect armchair coaches to question starting Allen. If he wins, expect praise for Hitch riding the hot hand.
Both the Blues and Wild have an identical record of 7-2-1, good for 15 points. Statistically speaking, neither team is stellar. The Wild are tied for 20th in the league with 2.90 GA/A, yet are tied for fifth with 3.30 G/G. Exploiting a weak defense is a goal tonight for the Blues. St. Louis, however, hasn't scored a power play goal since their win against Winnipeg, but has allowed a stingy 2.10 GA/A this season. The Wild's PK is 26th in the league, which is the same as the Blues' power play percentage.
Most telling, the Wild's save percentage is just .895.
This would be a game for a healthy Blues team to handily win, but we saw what happened on October 10th. And the Blues are not healthy. Vladimir Tarasenko is out today, the lines tonight look like they've been put into a blender, and the Post-Dispatch has given up on printing a full injury list. Will the Blues continue their resiliency?