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Flames at Blues preview: Improved defense is the key

The Blues are still searching for their first win of the season.

Last season, the Calgary Flames missed the playoffs - a disappointment considering how hard they fought to crack the top eight in the West the year before. They re-tooled their lineup, jettsoning Troy Brouwer and bringing aboart James Neal. Neal was a recent Stanley Cup competitor with the Vegas Golden Knights, and help take an expansion team from obscurity to the big stage in their first season.

Why not do that with a team that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1989?

So far that plan appears to be working. After dropping their first game, the Flames have won two straight. Their top two lines have been clicking - Johnny Gaudreau already has six assists on the season, and Sean Monahan has four goals. There’s no way that the Blues can sit back on the Flames - and even if they apply pressure, Mike Smith could turn in another 43 save shutout like he did Tuesday night against the very good Nashville Predators.

The Blues have some reinforcements coming in the form of Joel Edmundson, who is back for his first game of the season. New arrival Jakub Jerebek will also be in, forcing Jacob Schmaltz and Vince Dunn to the press box. Tighter defensive play is an absolute must against the Flames, who will make you pay and make you pay quickly for lapses. The Blues need to pick up their D; sooner would be better than later.