After three games in one week, the Blues are starting a stretch of play that will see them have five games between today and Halloween. The easy start is going to pick up, and the 3-0 Blues are going to have some challenges thrown their way.
A team that’s been consistently challenging for the Blues have been the big and heavy Winnipeg Jets. The Jets this season are still big and heavy, but their identity is a huge question mark. They lost Paul Stastny, Evgeni Svechnikov, and Zach Sanford this off-season, and head coach Dave Lowry joined the Kraken’s coaching staff to be replaced by Rick Bowness. Bowness is known for his no-nonsense coaching, which is a polite way to say that he allows absolutely no wiggle room or personal considerations. This comes on top of a leadership shakeup that stripped Blake Wheeler of his C in hopes of adding an influx of shared responsibility to the team.
Bowness has missed the team’s first four games with a COVID-19 diagnosis, so tonight will be his second regular season game behind the bench. His first was a 4-1 loss Saturday night to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If players didn’t consistently feel a sense of shared responsibility last year with a captain, it’s going to remain to be seen if they can maintain that sense of responsibility without a captain.
The Blues shut out the Oilers 2-0 on Saturday afternoon, an impressive blanking of a high firepower offense. The Jets’ offense so far has scored 12 goals across five games, which is not bad, but the scoring has come in spurts. Eight of those goals have come in two games, a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers and a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Neal Pionk and Mark Scheifele have been leading the way in scoring goals, but if the Blues can shut down the Oilers’ offense and special teams, The Jets’ power play has been slow to get started, beginning the year 23rd in the league at a 14.3% effectiveness while their penalty kill has been even weaker, at a 69.2% effectiveness, good for 26th in the league.
Tonight’s lineup may look a little different. Logan Brown, who has missed the Blues first three games with an injury, is available to play this evening.