The Blues roll into the Motor City tonight feeling a little better about themselves. Despite being outshot and often out-played against Pittsburgh, the Blues managed to pull off an impressive win against the Pens. Where the Blues once struggled to score, they now have 2 (count 'em!) 5-goal regulation games in a week's time. They haven't scored that many goals since the 11/04 #RoarBacon game, a 6-5 OT win. It has been quite a while since we've seen that kind of production.
It's too soon to say that the team's offensive woes are over, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. As the team starts getting players back from injury, one can hope that it only gets better. One of these nights, we'll actually have a complete team to watch. Some of the banged-up Blues are on the trip: Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo and Jaden Schwartz are travelling with the team, but their return to the ice has not been announced yet. At least one of the D-men should be back: Chris Butler was assigned back to the Chicago Wolves. Presumably, that means the new kid in town, Andre Benoit, remains with the team. In the long run, these injuries may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. These guys needed the break anyway.
On the other side, the opponent from tonight has their own agenda. The Wings are currently sitting in 2nd place in the Atlantic, with an overall record of 23-14-8 and a home record of 11-8-5. The teams in the East are pretty closely packed, so they can ill afford to lose any ground. They are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, and are coming off of a shootout loss against Philadelphia on Sunday. It's not a shocker that the team is led in points by Henrik Zetterberg (30), but the goals lead is shared by Tomas Tatar and rookie Dylan Larkin with 14 each. With the McDavid injury, the consensus Calder favorite is Dylan Larkin.
The Blues will have to be especially careful tonight. Their penchant for taking a period off will be particularly damaging tonight. Historically, the Blues have played tight games against Detroit. They could dominate them for most of the game but still lose in the small moment that they allow the Wings to rebound. If the Blues are up by a goal late in the game, you can almost count on a Detroit power play. That's not a conspiracy, that's just a weird twist of fate that seems to befall this rivalry. You also can't forget how last year's match in Detroit ended (see below). Also, don't be surprised if both teams take it to the limit tonight - their last three games have ended in OT.
The Blues will undoubtedly start Brian Elliott in net, and the Wings will have Petr Mrazek (.931 Sv%, 2.10 GAA) in their goal. Hopefully they'll pay him enough on his next contract to buy a vowel or two.
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Final Verse: It is RIVALRY NIGHT, dontcha know, so we're stuck with another national broadcast. The plus side, at least, is that the puck drops at 7:00 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on NBC Sports Network, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Please join us in the GDT, the secret greeting is "Fuck Detroit".
Also, we owe these guys a good beating (and the hockey gods owes us one, methinks):