In my opinion, one of the Blues’ biggest games of the whole season is this Thursday’s game against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. This season the Blues are 0-3 against the Preds, and there is a significant chance that the two teams will face off in the first round of the playoffs. That being said, the Blues only have two more games against their Central Division rivals, including the game on Thursday. The Blues need to make a statement, and this Thursday is an excellent chance for the Blues. The team needs to show its fans, and itself, that it is capable of beating the Predators, who have only gotten stronger recently through trades (Check out Vince’s update for more info).
While I’m certain the Blues are more than capable of beating Nashville, I am far less confident about the Blues coming out of Thursday’s game with a W. We will be exploring Thursday’s game more in depth as it approaches, and what I really want to discuss here is how, after tomorrow’s game with the Bruins, the Blues will play 13 games on the road with only 3 home games in between. This stretch will test the Blues to the fullest and see how the team can endure and perform away from home sweet home. It will give the opportunity for the Blues to make a statement and to give the perception that the team is not afraid of any challenger. It is easy for me to explain what the team needs to do, but the question is whether it will happen. The Blues are 10-13-3 on the road this season which ranks 24th in the league in comparison to their 2nd place home record of 26-3-4. Clearly, this is a level of mediocrity that does not represent a Stanley Cup caliber team.
Here are some key points comparing the Blues at home and on the road:
- The Blues average 2.94 goals at home. They average 1.96 on the road.
- When both teams are at even strength, at home the Blues have outscored their opponents by 41 goals during the season. On the road they have only scored one more goal than their opponents.
- The Blues rank last in the league on the power play in away games where they are 7 for 79. While they aren’t exactly noteworthy at home, they are 26 for 121 which is a little better.
The Blues’ best player on the road, Alex Steen, had a +/- of 7 in away games. In his last 8 away games the team was 4-2-2. Clearly, the team is missing his presence especially on the road. Hopefully the team can improve over this long stretch without Steen, whose return from a concussion is still uncertain.
A win over the Preds would be a great way to start the Blues’ journey ahead of them away from the Scottrade Center.