Saturday afternoon’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens was only the Blues’ second regulation loss of the year, but technically they’re on a four game losing streak. They, arguably, should not be - yet here they sit, fourth in the Central Division with nine points. If they had played more consistent hockey to begin the year, the losses to both the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks would be wins, and they’d have 11 points, good for second.
The Central, you see, is a tight division, as usual. That doesn’t mean that a team can’t run away with the lead, and the Colorado Avalanche seem set on doing just that. They were picked by a few hockey pundits to finish first in the Central, and they’re not doing much to prove those pundits wrong. The Avs are 7-0-1 to start the season, the only team left without a regulation loss, and their last game saw them dismantle the Tampa Bay Lightning by the tune of 5-2.
They are the real deal, and probably the last Western Conference team that the Blues would like to see right now. The Avalanche and Blues see each other five times this season, and the Blues absolutely need to make the most of these meetings if they want to compete in the upper reaches of the Central. Last year the Blues and Avalanche went to overtime three times, so while the Blues swept the season series last year they handed points to the competition.
Winning cleanly in regulation tonight would be a welcome site for the Blues, who either don’t have enough buy-in or are gripping their sticks too tightly, depending on who you speak to. There has been good play in each of the Blues’ games this season but there’s been some slacking off that has cost the Blues. Not putting forth a full effort against the Avalanche tonight can easily extend the Blues’ losing streak to five games.