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Preview Blues at Wild: Hint, These Guys Are A Little Better Than the Avalanche

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The Blues end their road trip in Minnesota at 7:00 on FSMW

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, so the Blues won the game on Sunday against the Avalanche and while it certainly was a relief I also think it’s important not to get too carried away.

The Avalanche are horrible. And I mean that in the nicest way possible but my goodness they are not very good at hockeying. Like embarrassingly bad.

However, I think they gave the Blues a lot better game than they should have and that troubles me.

When a team like the Blues, who has been struggling as of late, go up against a team like the Avalanche you kind of expecting them to show some serious aggression. Pummeling their opponent until you almost feel sorry for them. Sunday night, I didn’t really get the feeling that the game had turned out that way.

Two power play goals and a fourth line goal don’t really invoke a lot of confidence in any already struggling offense.

That game was the Blues best chance to get back on track. It was their chance to get players like Schwartz, Steen, and Parayko a little confidence boost. Instead we saw much of the same thing.

Hesitation to take shots, a few bad turnovers against an inferior opponent, some lackadaisical play by key players, and a maddening failure to clear the damn puck.

Jake Allen still had to bail the team out in critical situations when he really shouldn’t have had to. The Blues defense still looked a little sluggish and slow. But most of all, I just didn't see that fire that I should have from a team trying to make the playoffs.

Maybe the Blues were playing down to their opponent. Maybe their early lead allowed them to get a little too comfortable. Or maybe I’m just asking for too much. Whatever the reason, if the Blues bring that weak-ass shit in to St. Paul the Wild are going to have a field day.

As of right now the Wild sit atop the Western Conference but have watched their once double digit lead reduced to one point by the surging Chicago Blackhawks.

A month ago it seemed like a division title was all but a foregone conclusion for the Wild but now it has turned into a dog fight.

It’s not that the Wild have fallen off, going 7-3 in their last ten games, it’s just that they haven’t been as good as the Blackhawks.

Some of that may be due to the Wild’s troubling possession numbers. Their 47.5% is fifth worst in the league but when you consider that they have one of the NHL’s best goalies backstopping them, that pill becomes a little easier to swallow.

Devan Dubnyk, the north wall, a pain in the Blues ass, whatever you want to call him, is still the Wild’s best player. His .933 save percentage is the best in the NHL and his goals against average ranks second at 2.01.

While Dubnyk is a big part of Minnesota’s success it would be unfair to chalk it all up to good goaltending. The Wild remain in the top ten in goals for, goals against, power play, and penalty kill percentage. Yeah, these guys are pretty good.

If the Blues stumble in to St. Paul sporting the same laid back, hesitant defense that they played in Colorado this game will be over before it begins.

With the addition of former Coyote Matin Hanzel the Wild are rostering three top tier scoring lines, as well as a very formidable fourth line.

Tonight, the Blues have to get production from up and down the lineup. Relying on a couple secondary players while the rest of the team drops back and plays defense simply will not cut it. It’s time for the Blues to find their competitive fire again.

If the Avalanche didn’t provide that spark. Hopefully the Wild will.