Tonight the Blues make a quick trip north of the border to take on the Winnipeg Jets before returning home on Sunday to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drops at 7:00 CT and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest.
After a lackluster and disappointing loss on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild the Blues had a nice bounce back game against a pesky Colorado Avalanche team that is battling for the final wild card spot in the Western conference.
While it was definitely a solid performance and a strong response by this enigmatic Blues team while one was watching the game last night one got the feeling that the Avalanche, much like the Blues team that played on Tuesday night, did not exactly put forth their best effort, especially in goal.
However, despite Colorado’s poor performance the Blues resisted the urge to play down to their competition.
Brayden Schenn led the charge with a fight in the opening minute of the game followed by a two goal performance. Ivan Barbashev, Alex Pietrangelo, Paul Stastny and Kyle Brodziak each netted one goal a piece while Hutton rebounded from Tuesday night (perhaps his first bad game of the season) with another solid performance, stopping 23 of 24 shots.
For much of this season the question has not been whether or not the Blues would be able to answer the bell after a poor performance but rather why the poor performance was allowed to happen in the first place.
It would seem much more beneficial for the team, heading into the waning months of this season, to find a maintainable level of consistency instead of constantly having to dig themselves out of holes that were easily avoidable. A solid performance like the one last night should not be something the Blues aspire to obtain but instead a baseline that becomes a solid foundation of their game. Something they fall back to instead of working to regain. The goals and wins might not always come like the did last night but the emotional toll on this team would be much less taxing.
As for tonight’s opponent, the Winnipeg Jets are quietly having themselves a season. They are currently tied with the Nashville Predators for first in the Central division and second in the Western conference.
They are 6-4 in their last ten games and are 20-3-2 at home this season. Their 3.2 goals for per game is 5th best in the NHL while their goals against average of 2.6 ranks 7th. They have the second best power play and the 10th best penalty kill.
Patrik Laine leads the team with 24 goals while right winger Blake Wheeler leads the team in assists (44) and points (58). Mark Scheifele would usually be the pair’s center but he sustained an upper body injury on December 27 and has yet to return to the lineup.
Also out of the lineup is right pair defenseman Jacob Trouba who suffered a lower body injury on January 25th and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Although he was averaging the second most ice time on the team head coach Paul Maurice felt confident that his team would be able to absorb the loss without too much trouble.
“If we have an area of depth, it’s right defense,” Maurice said. “That’s the one place where if we have a guy go down we have players who want the minutes and can handle the minutes.” [ESPN.com]
Make no mistake about it, these are not the same Jets that missed the playoffs the last two seasons. They are fast, strong and can out score just about anyone.
Blues are gonna need another strong performance again tonight or else we will be hearing once again how they “need to get back to their game”. Finding your game is the easy part, maintaining it is what separates contenders from the pretenders.
Thanks for reading and Go Blues.