There may be nothing more disruptive for hockey players’ routines - and fans’ routines - than a weird afternoon start time. Noon? Too early. Three o’clock? When are you supposed to take a nap?
Two o’clock local Edmonton time? Even worse. That means it’s a 3:00 start in St. Louis, which is too early to hop over to a sports bar and have dinner, or order a pizza. There’s still not much room for complaining for us, though - normally the games against Western Canadian teams start so late that we’re either finishing a pot of coffee to get through them or just asleep on the couch at the start of the third.
There’s a lot to enjoy on the fans’ side of things for today, and it’s not all about when the puck drops. The Blues only have two games under their belt, which is an absurdly small sample size. Within those two games, you have Jordan Binnington playing well, Vladimir Tarasenko with 5 points (2G, 3A), Justin Faulk having a two goal game, and Robert Thomas getting an early jump on notching some assists. The defense looks a bit sharper, too, Torey Krug’s accidental own-goal deflection aside.
But again, small sample size - and a small sample size that is just a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and a game against the Seattle Kraken. This afternoon against the Oilers will be the Blues’ first true challenge, and Binnington’s first true day of work. He’ll have to contend with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to start. The Oilers have four games under their belts and McDavid already has ten points (5G, 5A). Draisaitl is close behind with eight (2G, 6A), and perennial stalwart Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five points in those four games (2G, 3A). Basically, a win today boils down to keeping the Oilers off of the power play. They’re clicking at a 37.5% effectiveness rate so far this season and should challenge the Blues’ so far perfect penalty kill.
Where the Blues should be able to excel is against the Oilers’ goaltending. Jack Campbell has started three games and has, so far, a 5.08 GAA and a .874 SV%. Stuart Skinner, in one game of work, has a 1.69 GAA and a .944 SV% - if Campbell starts the Blues could be set.