"They’re a team that’s had success against us in the playoffs, and we’ve split the two meetings so far this year," Blues captain David Backes said. "It’ll be a good divisional rivalry, another great contested game for a full 60 minutes. There are two points at hand and we’ve got to stockpile them."
The Blues' New Year's resolution should be to stop saying and start doing. The Wild are six points back, but have four fewer games played. Giving away two points to a tough team tonight isn't the best way to close out 2015, one that has been emphatically marked by coming up short to Minnesota. The Wild are not an easy team to play against - they don't allow for mistakes to be pounced upon very often.
The Blues have a lot of bright spots right now, despite uneven play. The Blues Overtime Blog mentions that Robby Fabbri's five goals this month leads all rookies, that Alexander Steen has a five game point streak against Minnesota, and that defenseman Carl Gunnarsson is suiting up for his 100th game as a Blue. There's also this stretch of stats:
The year 2015, overall, has been very good to the Blues. The club signed Vladimir Tarasenko to a long-term contract in the summer and introduced a few talented newcomers into the lineup in rookies Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson. Jake Allen continues his rise, too, as he ranks fourth in the League in wins (18), seventh in goals-against average (2.08) and first in shutouts (5).
Statistically speaking, 2015 was a good year for the Blues, who rank third overall in win percentage (.667) with a 52-24-8 record. The club also ranked fifth in goals per game (2.36), first in shutouts (11), sixth in power-play success (20.6 percent) and first in penalty kill (87.5 percent).
Nice. There is a lot to be happy with as far as the team goes this year, though the reasons for that happiness contributes to some frustration that somehow it can't all come to fruition. But that's ok, because that's what the New Year is for! Let's clean up the gaps in 2016, and use tonight's game as a starting point. The Fabbri-Lehtera-Jaskin line was excellent Tuesday, combining for five points. Build on that. You now have two and a half scoring lines. When Berglund comes back, that could improve. The Blues' power play over the last four regular-season games against the Wild has been working at a 40% clip. I think that's not bad. Go on and exploit the Wild's 27th ranked penalty kill for a goal or two. Take advantage of Zach Parise being out of the lineup tonight.
The Blues should do what they can to make sure they finish 2015 well, and they need to continue that momentum into 2016.