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Blues at Canucks game preview: Whale of a time

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The Canucks are one of the NHL’s biggest surprises this season.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Vancouver Canucks Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The season is just over a month old, but if the Pacific Division keeps going the way they’re going now, they’ll be the NHL’s biggest surprise this year. Everything that was supposed to be at the top (the Sharks) is at the bottom (also the Sharks). San Jose is 4-10-1 to start the season, Edmonton is 10-4-2, and the Vancouver Canucks - who everyone thought would be a little better, but nothing crazy - are in second place with a 9-3-2 record and 20 points. They’re 4-0-1 at home and have a goal differential of +19.

They’re very, very good.

The Blues? They’re leading the Central Division, are second in the Western Conference, and have won four games in a row. They’ve also been maddeningly inconsistent within games, going from commanding lead to flailing about to tying the game to winning in OT. The 60 minutes of game time that the Blues ice is coronary inducing sometimes. It’s frustrating, and it elicits eye rolls, but at the end of the night the Blues have been skating off of the ice the winners.

It’s helpful that they’ve been playing non-playoff caliber teams recently. Detroit, the Wild, the Blue Jackets, and the Wild again should yield points, and eight points is eight points. Tonight won’t be the kind of game where the Blues can slack off in the second. The Canucks have lost only one game in regulation in their last 12. A team doesn’t accomplish this by taking periods off, and if the Blues slack, Vancouver will make them pay.

No one on the Canucks has cracked 10 goals yet, but Brock Boser is at seven (with nine goals and 16 points) and Elias Pettersson has already hit the 20 point mark (six goals, 14 assists). Both Canucks goalies have had a solid start to the season, with Thatcher Demko putting up stellar numbers in particular (4-1-0, 1.78 GAA, .938 SV%). Jordan Binnington’s been hitting stride, though - he’s 5-1-0 with a 2.17 GAA and a .930SV% in his last six starts. His numbers are getting better as the season has gone on - he’s 7-2-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .917 SV%.