Tonight at 8:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM CT the St Louis Blues will be in Canada to take on the Winnipeg Jets. This is the third meeting between the two Central Division rivals this season. This game also happens to be the third of four consecutive divisional games for the Blues. St Louis (17-10-4, 38 points) may be third in the Division right now compared to the Jets (14-14-2, 30 points) sixth place, but St Louis has been struggling and Winnipeg will be looking to pounce. Tonight’s game will surely be another hard-hitting battle on the ice that fans will not want to miss.
Preview: The Blues and Jets have met twice already this season and both times the Blues came out on top. On October 18 Vladimir Tarasenko scored the winning goal in the Blues’ 4-2 victory. Then on November 16 it was David Backes with the go-ahead goal for the 3-2 win in St Louis.
The Blues are coming off of a 5-game homestand (2-3-0) that did not go as well as one would have liked. They hope to get things back on track while in Winnipeg before returning to St Louis again. The team has been struggling lately and as a result is starting to fall in the standings. They are now in third place after sitting in second in the division for the early part of the season. St Louis currently only sits 2 points ahead of Minnesota in fourth, so the Blues are going to need to get things rolling. Winnipeg might just be the place to do that. With two wins already under their belt, the Blues are primed to get another.
It’s not all bad news. The Blues penalty kill is ranking top in the NHL at the moment at 87.7 percent, and the club has gone 15-for-15 in the past 8 games. That’s great! The Blues also have Backes is on a 4-game point streak with 3 goals and 2 assists. (blues.nhl) Kevin Shattenkirk is on a point streak of his own with 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in 15 games.
Winnipeg has been hot at home lately, they have 3 straight wins on home ice and are looking for their fourth tonight. That being said they are just returning home from a 0-2 loss to Chicago on Friday. They have had plenty of time off to think about the game and make changes. And so they are. The Jets have a 3-9-0 record against Central Division teams and Coach Paul Maurice is changing up his lines to look for some more success. Expect to see Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba as a new pairing. Maurice said that Trouba “needs to play against [top lines] to get to the next level.” Ben Chiarot and Mark Stuart will also be a new pairing. (jets.nhl)
The Blues look to be using Jake Allen in goal tonight. It is expected that the Jets will have rookie Connor Hellebuyck between the pipes. He has a 4-1-0 record with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.
Injury Report: Steve Ott is on IR with a hamstring injury. Jaden Schwartz is on IR with a broken ankle. Patrik Berglund is on IR after off-season shoulder surgery. Now Berglund traveled with the team to Winnipeg and was seen on the ice this morning. It is expected that he will return in January.
Let’s Go Blues!
Review: On Sunday the Blues faced the Colorado Avalanche in yet another division showdown. Allen was in net for the Blues against the Avs’ Semyon Varlamov. Both teams, including both goalies, were on the second game of back-to-backs.
The first period saw the Avalanche find the board first. Only 6:09 into the first period and Petteri Lindbohm got a bit crossed up with Shattenkirk as they were both caught up on the same side of the ice. Lindbohm turned-over the puck at this time, and the rest of the ice was open for a play to easily move into the Blues’ zone. The Avs first shot on goal was by Jack Skille and the puck went by Allen’s stick side to put Colorado up 1-0.
At the 11:50 mark of the period Dmitrij Jaskin had a great chance on Varlamov. When the rebound shot out, the play flew to the other end of the ice, and 38 seconds after Jaskin’s attempt, John Mitchell put the Avalanche up 2-0.
This remained the score until the third period. With 7:05 remaining in regulation the birthday boy, Tarasenko, found the net on a power play. Shattenkirk started everything off with a rocket from the point. Backes and Paul Stastny whacked at the puck from in close but the rebound slips out to Tarasenko who is standing nearby. Tarasenko collects the rebound and puts it just inside the near post. The Blues cut the lead to one. Blues trail 2-1.
In the final 1:21 St Louis pulls Allen for the extra attacker but just doesn’t do anything with it. That’s when Carl Soderberg puts away an empty netter with 21.8 remaining. The Final: Blues 1, Avalanche 3
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr