As the Blues work themselves out of their recent funk, we've seen quite a spectrum of games. On one extreme, we have the Blues putting in a garbage effort, and getting garbage results. At the other extreme, we've seen the Blues at peak battle mode, and still lose to a hot goalie and bad luck.
And then there's that one time they shut out the hottest offense in the league.
The Blues need to shake the Jekyll and Hyde act, but that's not to say there hasn't been some consistent positives along the way. One improvement that has gone down under the radar is the teams' PK. They have killed every penalty (including some tense 5-on-3s) for 8 straight games, a total of 15 opportunities. You'd have to go back to the end of the
2012-2013 season to find a streak like that. The Blues lead the league with a 87.7% PK rate for the season. Perhaps more remarkable, our boys have found some success on the power play as well. They faced a 20+ game stretch without a single power play goal early in the season, and was at one time ranked 29th in the league. Since the famous #RoarBacon game where Jay Bouwmeester broke the drought, St Louis has worked themselves up to 13th in the league at 18.7%. Currently, St Louis is on a streak of 3 games with at least 1 power-play goal. I don't think asking for both to continue is overkill.
The Blues have enjoyed some success against the Winnipeg Jets, particularly in Manitoba. Since Jets 2.0 took up residence there, the Blues are 5-0-2 at the MTS Centre. The last time they earned a regulation win while hosting the Blues, the Jets were led by some guy named Keith Tkachuk. Whatever became of that guy?
The people to watch are David Backes and (of course) Vladimir Tarasenko. In the two games earlier this year (both won by STL), Cap'n Dave has 2 goals and 2 assists, while Vladdy has 3 goals and an assist. We've seen these guys step up lately. Who can it be now? Watch for the D pairing of Carl Gunnarsson and Colton Parayko- they've already accounted for 4 points in this series.
The Blues will need to continue to pour it on, as we saw in the endeavor against Colorado in the 2nd and 3rd periods. One stat you'll surely hear tonight, as cited by Jeremy Rutherford:
For the season, the team now ranks No. 7 in the NHL in shots per game (30.5), but just 20th in the league in goals per game (2.48).
That is what "not getting bounces your way" looks like. That is an 8.1 shot percentage, and your middle-of-the-pack teams are 9.0, 9.1% .... a full percentage point higher. That's a substantial difference. If the Blues keep getting 30+ shots on net, the goals will come. The norm is a shot percentage like those "average" teams -or even last year's Blues (9.4%). But to get those shots, you need to keep working at it. All the talent in the world can't replace a strong work ethic.
This is the third game against the Jets this year, and likely the third different goalie that we'll see. The first time, Colton Parayko almost broke Ondrej Pavelec . The second time around, it was Michael Hutchinson's turn in the firing line. Tonight, it's looking like it will be rookie Connor Hellebuyck facing the Blues in the Winnipeg net. So far this year he's posted a 4-1-0 record and a 1.79 GAA / .938 Sv%. As for our net, it will likely be Jake Allen minding it. We'll assume that for every game I reckon, until we're told differently.
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Final Verse: Thankfully we're still in the Midwest, so the game is at a "normal" time tonight. The puck drops at 7:00 St Louis time, and the GDT will drop shortly beforehand. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Come pay us a visit! Bring beer, but keep the vegemite to yourself