The St. Louis Blues had some ups and downs over the last week. One thing remained the same though – the Blues are at the top.
As St. Louis Blues fans, we piss and moan (sorry for the language) about every minute little detail. We get disgusted by every missed power play or breakaway given up or missed pass.
That’s just what fans do. We all do it, just to varying degrees. However, when you take a step back and look at things in a larger scale, how much can we really complain?
The Blues are currently in first place in what we all consider to be the toughest division in hockey. There is no telling how long they will stay there, but nobody thought they’d be in first even after the first game, let alone the first nine games.
So, let’s take a quick look at the week that was to see how everyone got where they are.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues went 2-0-1 this past week. It’s that last game that sticks in everyone’s craw a little bit.
The loss, an OT loss, came against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Blues dominated the shot categories, but struggled to get it by a minor league call up and a guy playing his first NHL game (two different players). The Blues were somewhat shafted in the overtime period by two blatantly missed tripping calls, but it is what it is.
St. Louis got a point from that and, overall, maybe that’s what they deserved. Prior to that game, the Blues had another back to back (their second of the young season).
The Blues beat Chicago on Wednesday, 5-2. It was not even that close. St. Louis gave up two late power play goals, spoiling what could have easily been a shutout.
The following night, things were much tighter. Still, St. Louis beat the Avs 4-3 albeit with a controversial allowance of a review that should not have happened.
St. Louis has Calgary, Carolina and Columbus on the schedule this week. Carolina is the only away game.
Chicago had the exact same schedule as the Blues, but it did not treat them as kindly. They ended up losing both games of a back-to-back before righting the ship during the weekend.
Chicago took on the Blues in that loss on Wednesday. The Blackhawks will be disappointed in their own efforts. They did not play a terrible game, but it did not look like a rivalry game from their end. They have no excuses either as they had a couple days off before that one.
The following night they fell to the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 in OT. Nothing to be embarrassed about there as the Oilers are a trendy pick to go to the finals. Still, Hawks fans won’t like having dropped that extra point since that’s the difference between first and second.
Chicago came back to life on the weekend. They finished their week with a 4-2 win over Arizona on the road. The teams traded goals in the first and second before Chicago took the game with two in the third.
The Blackhawks have Vegas, Nashville and Colorado on the schedule this week.
The Stars got off to a slow start, but here they come. Playing Arizona seems to be the cure for everyone by the way.
Chicago beat the Coyotes and Dallas took the same path. They defeated the desert dogs twice en route to a 3-0-0 week’s record.
The Stars beat Arizona 3-1 at home on Tuesday. They had a quick rematch and won 5-4 on Thursday. The defense was not as good for the Stars on the road, but they still got the job done.
A return home did not see the defense play any better, but again the result was gained. Dallas beat Carolina 4-3 on Saturday.
The Stars now have 10 points in 8 games, putting them just three points off the pace with a game in hand early.
Dallas will see Colorado, Edmonton and Calgary this week. All those games will be on the road as they take their west coast swing.
Nashville remains somewhat of an enigma. They still have much of the talent that took them to the Stanley Cup Final. They remain in the middle of the pack as they try to figure things out though.
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Perhaps they are taking the LA Kings approach where you finish in last and go all the way. We’ll see whether that works out by the end of the year.
For the week, the Preds went 2-1-0. Not a terrible week, but not what they wanted either.
Nashville opened strong. They beat Colorado 4-1 in a divisional game back on Tuesday. That game was in the music city as they thumped the squad out of the mountains.
After that it was a couple road games. Out east, the Preds edged Philadelphia 1-0 on Thursday. Then it was a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. Nashville had a strong second period in that game, but it was not enough overall.
The Predators have an interesting week ahead. They take on Calgary at home on Tuesday. Then it is off to Chicago for a Friday night game and back home to face the Islanders the very next evening.
It is still extremely early days, but the Winnipeg Jets continue to be an enigma. They seem to have the talent to make that jump to the next level. However, like the Edmonton Oilers, it is taking them forever to figure it all out.
Winnipeg only had a couple games this past week as they were one of the few teams to not play a similar schedule to their division foes. The Jets were at home against Columbus on Tuesday and then the Minnesota Wild came to visit on Thursday.
Winnipeg could not hold off the Blue Jackets. John Tortorella’s crew came to life with a 5-2 win that day in Winnipeg. The following contest saw the Jets answer with a 4-3 win.
The .500 week puts the Jets at 4-3-0 through seven games. The Jets will face the Penguins and Blue Jackets on the road and then Pittsburgh at home. It’s another odd week for the most northern division team as they have games on Thursday, Friday and Sunday with a long layoff between.
The poor Avs. They started off well and got people wondering. That was not to last.
As we saw in the Blues game, the Avs have enough talent to push any team to the limit and perhaps more. They are nowhere near the point where they are going to contend though – not even for a playoff spot unless something major happened.
They are not a bad team though, which must drive their own fans nuts.
Like the Jets, the Avalanche only had two games. They lost both and both were to division teams, which puts them behind the eight ball early.
Tuesday saw Colorado fall to Nashville. That was that 4-1 defeat we spoke of earlier.
The following Thursday, the Avs were hard done by the offside call that was correct even if it should not have happened. That call was the difference in a 4-3 game against St. Louis.
Things don’t get easier for Colorado this week. They have a couple home games and one on the road.
It will be Dallas at home on Tuesday, off to Vegas on Friday and then a quick trip home to face Chicago on Saturday.
Still trying to figure things out are last year’s hot team. Like the 2015 Avalanche, the Wild are in danger of being a one-off.
Minnesota just does not have the scoring right now after a few tweaks to their lineup in the offseason. Minnesota went 1-1-0 in a couple road games this week.
The Wild lost to the Jets 4-3 on Friday. The following night, they beat Calgary 4-2. Both games were on the road.
Minnesota has the chance to right the ship during their next trio of games. They won’t all be easy, but they are winnable games.
The Wild face Vancouver at home on Tuesday. Then the New York Islanders come to town on Thursday. The week is finished off with a game against Pittsburgh on Saturday. All three are in St. Paul.
The division has been quite interesting in the early going. Nobody saw the Blues taking first place, but nobody saw the struggles of Minnesota or Nashville either.
It is still very early. The division race could turn upside down with a couple bad or good weeks, depending on your perspective.
We’ll keep an eye on what’s going on and keep you updated. For now, the Blues are in the yellow jacket but these things are fluid.