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Sabres at Blues preview: Welcome back, Carter Hutton

The former Blues backup has found a home in Buffalo.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back from Christmas break, everyone. The Blues gave fans a sort-of present, going 2-1-0 on their Western Canada roadtrip and closing it out with a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon. The Blues have been massively terrible on the games after a win, absurdly so even, but maybe enough time has passed where that rule doesn’t apply? Maybe, just maybe, the Blues can shake off the high of beating one of the surprise teams in the league by beating another surprise team?

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, good for the second-longest playoff drought in the NHL behind the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s only appropriate then that a former Cane, Jeff Skinner, has yanked the Sabres into a position to end the misery. Skinner has 26 goals on the season, second to only Alexander Ovechkin. If you look at your calendars, you will notice that we’re barely close to the halfway mark of the year.

This is insane output from Skinner and a quality compliment to Jack Eichel and his 48 points. Factor in former Blues goalie Carter Hutton, and it’s pretty clear why the Sabres are 21-11-5 and sitting in a playoff spot. It’s not exactly “worst to first,” but it “worst to actually making the playoffs,” and that’s good.

The Blues, as it stands now, are probably not making the playoffs but they’re playing a tiny bit better. They have points in six of their last nine and are just seven points out of the last playoff spot in the West. Hitting Buffalo right now may be a good thing - they’ve lost to the Sabres just once in their last twelve meetings, though those were very, very bad Sabres teams.

This team? The Blues will probably have a challenge on their hands tonight, so smart play and limiting penalties will go a long way. So will playing a full game, which when the Blues do that, they can look very good. It’s just a matter of whether they will manage to play a full game or not.

The Blues begin a five game homestand tonight, which is the perfect opportunity to try to right the ship as the new year begins.