The Blues haven’t seen the Capitals since opening night in 2019. They probably haven’t missed the Capitals much in these nearly two in a half years between meetings. Both teams are completely different in construction. The Blues’ captaincy shifted from Alex Pietrangelo, who departed, to Ryan O’Reilly. The leaving of Pietrangelo and the loss of Bouwmeester forced a reshaping of the Blues’ defensive corps, and many fans are not happy with what they’ve become.
They’re smaller, they’re less aware, they’re slower, and - based on Wednesday night’s loss to the Penguins - they’re completely ok with allowing four unanswered goals. You can’t take your foot off of the gas against the Pens, yet the Blues sat back on their lead - and lost. Niko Mikkola poked the dragon with a completely unnecessary fight against Sidney Crosby, which jumpstarted the wrong team. Risk taking gets you nowhere against the Penguins, and it gets you even further from nowhere against the Washington Capitals.
Caps captain Alexander Ovechkin has 50 points in 34 games this season (24G, 24A), and nearly always leaves every game against the Blues with a couple more. Despite knowing exactly who he is and where he’s shooting from, the Blues allow him carte blanche to run roughshot over them even with a large and physical defense. This season, who knows? The defense is without Scott Perunovich and Jake Walman for at least the next five days thanks to COVID-19, so it looks like Mikkola and Robert Bortuzzo will have to slot in tonight.
The Blues are also without their top Russian superstar. Vladimir Tarasenko, who is a point per game player so far this season, is also out on the list. A win tonight will take a stronger effort than the frittering away of a lead that the Blues gave the Pens Wednesday night. Let’s see if the Blues can pull it off.