The Los Angeles Kings have not fully recovered from last season’s disastrous campaign, but they’re also not dwelling at the bottom of the Pacific to start the season. That is, surprisingly, the San Jose Sharks. The Kings are at 4-5-0 to start the season, an easy record to remedy. They’re .500 on the road, and Anze Kopitar and Ilya Kovalchuk are both having solid starts to the season. Kovalchuk especially could be dangerous for the Blues tonight - he’s shooting at an 18.8% clip. Just because Kovy isn’t a spring chicken anymore doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten all of the fundamentals that made him such an explosive scorer for most of his NHL and KHL careers.
Goaltending wise, well, Jonathan Quick has had better starts to a season. He’s 2-3-0 with a 4.44 GAA and a .847 SV%. Backup goalie Jack Campbell is doing a bit better with a line of 2-2-0, a 2.76 GAA, and a .897 SV%.
The Blues can’t underestimate a team that would love nothing more than to prove everyone wrong. St. Louis dismantled a Colorado Avalanche team that walked into the Enterprise Center as the last team in the league without a regulation loss. Goals from Brayden Schenn, David Perron, and Vladimir Tarasenko were coupled with an effective defense put the Avs eight game point streak to a close.
A key component to the Blues’ victory was not letting Nathon MacKinnon’s first period power play goal suck all of the wind out of their sails. They had a team meeting prior to the game to address some weak points, and it worked. Team meetings have, in the past, sometimes had zero effect on the team’s play, so seeing one be this effective is reassuring. The team identified its weak points and took care of the issues against the best team in the Western Conference as of right now.
There’s no reason why they can’t keep up the good work against the Kings.
Well, one small reason: Sammy Blais may be out tonight. He took a thwack to the hand against Colorado and has a taped up thumb. It’s hard for one of the team’s best forwards so far to play with just one hand.