While these next two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets may not be too challenging, or even too exciting, they are still important. In their last faring against the Jackets, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, the Blues were in the middle of a sloppy road slump. They had been miserably mediocre on the road, and their 2-1 loss to the Jackets gave many Blues fans reason to be uncomfortable. Simply put, the team did not look like the number one team in the NHL. Of course, this was about a month ago, and the Blues now are the number one team in the league. And they are convincingly so. Since that game in Columbus the blues have won five out of seven games on the road. Those five wins were on a six game road trip which was originally the cause of worry for fans. The Blues have been great on defense all season, and have been great at home all season, but now it looks like their offense and ability to win on the road has improved. A crucial aspect of their recent success has also been their Special Teams, which has also greatly improved since the All-Star break. This success includes a streak of 35 straight killed penalties.
Although I left it out before, a great deal of the Blues success has been the incredible goal-tending. Jaroslav Halak has unleashed the Halakness Monster and has won his last seven starts. This represents a career best for him. Halak’s success has perhaps put Brian Elliot under the radar. Whereas before the two were a clear tandem and rotation, it appears that Halak may has claimed the role of the head honcho. Elliot is on a tiny slump and has lost his last three games. Hopefully this game against the lowly Jackets serves as a restart button for him, because before those three losses he had won five in a row. After Henrik Lundqvist gave up up 3 goals to Chicago last night, Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak became the number one and two goalies in the league in terms of goals against average. Elliot leads the league with his 1.61 GAA and Halak follows with his 1.86 GAA.
Only one thing really needs to be said for the Blues tonight: they have to win this game. And the next one too. If the Blues want to stay the NHL’s best, they need to continue to perform that way. I’m looking for the Blues to have another fun night offensively, and to add to my favorite statistic. After the win against the Ducks Thursday, the Blues are now 34-0 when scoring three goals.
For those of you who didn’t already know, Ben Bishop won his hope opener against…the New York Rangers on Thursday. I’m not sure anyone expected Bishop to win his first two pro starts, but it will be fun to see if he can continue his success in Ottawa.