St. Louis Blues: November Rolls In, Doesn’t Get Easier

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Jake Allen
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Jake Allen /
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St. Louis Blues
ST. LOUIS, MO – OCTOBER 30: Jaden Schwartz /

The St. Louis Blues finished up one of their best opening months in team history with a victory over a former rival. Now they look forward to the month of turkey and pie with some appetizing matchups on the slate.

The St. Louis Blues are not going to have much time to bask in the glow of their fabulous October record. Despite coming up with a big win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Blues had one day to practice and now it’s looking forward to November.

St. Louis cannot simply look forward to turkey and pie – or whatever interesting dishes the Swedes and Russians on the team choose to partake in – either. The Blues have to flip the page, focus on November and hit the ground running again. They’ve got some difficult games right at the start and toward the end.

The Blues start things off with a couple Eastern Conference foes, packed with a lot of offense. That’s going to test the Blues defense and make sure they are not getting too full of themselves.

In the middle of the month, you’ve got the dreaded western Canada trip slipped in there before the holiday. Fortunately for the Blues, the schedule did not cram those games too close together. There will be time to have bonding trips around the towns instead of catching red-eye flights each time.

Then, St. Louis ends the month with some home games against teams they have had issues with over the last few years. It will be interesting to see how they roll out against those squads this year.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick moment to break down each team.

Philadelphia Flyers – Nov 2

The Blues open the month with a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. These are not your dad’s Flyers, the same way the Blues are not the same Blues of old.

Gone are the days of the Broadstreet Bullies as the Flyers are trying to transition to a more speed game similar to the Blues. Playing in the Eastern Conference, you’ll never completely loose that physical style, but there is not quite the same nastiness we’ve seen in past orange and black teams.

Gone is Brayden Schenn (thank you, very much). Colin McDonald and Andrew MacDonald are both out for the foreseeable future with “lower body injuries”.

Nolan Patrick is still getting his feet wet as he has shown flashes, but picked up an injury here and there to slow him down. He’s a lock to miss the Blues game as they just placed him on IR with a head injury. That’s somewhat disappointing as it is always fun to see the new blood of the league.

Valtteri Filppula has been what the Flyers wanted offensively, starting November as their number six scorer. He’s been somewhat of a defensive liability though, so the Blues might want to get their top line going against whichever line he is on.

And finally, we get to see old Moose come back. Brian Elliott is on the Flyers now, for those who were not paying attention.

As usual, Elliott is doing well in the win/loss column but not very good elsewhere. He comes into their first game of the month (in Chicago) with a .884 save percentage and a 3.23 goals against.

Not all of that is his fault as the Flyers’ defense is not littered with household names. Still, the Blues are coming out ahead with that trade as time goes on.

Toronto – Nov 4

The second game of the month will be against the offensively potent Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs enter November as the second leading goal scoring team in the entire NHL.

Their problem is they cannot keep the puck out. To end October, they had 47 goals as a team. They allowed 43.

Toronto is a fun, dynamic team to watch but as much as everyone kisses their behind that is not a recipe for success come playoff time. Just ask the Washington Capitals how far offense alone has gotten them.

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Toronto is similar to the Blues in that their top two lines are doing the bulk of the scoring. The Leafs are just getting a little more out of their bottom two lines than St. Louis.

Patrick Marleau is settling into his new home pretty well after being in San Jose forever. The 38 year old is getting some new life playing with all these kids.

In goal, Frederik Andersen is getting the bulk of the work. Like Elliott, he’s getting the job done but it is not statistically clean with sub-.900 save percentages and a goals against above 3.00.

New Jersey – Nov 7

This is going to be an interesting one. The Devils are off to their best start in years after finally hitting the reset button not too long ago.

The question for the Devils is are they for real or are they just off to a good start?

Right now the Devils are doing their scoring by committee, so you don’t have to worry about any one player going cold. On top of that, Taylor Hall is dishing out way more than he’s putting in. If he can keep that up and get back to his scoring goals in the mid-20’s, then the Devils’ offense should be alright.

The Devils have quality goaltending, if not the necessarily the best you’re going to see. Corey Schneider has always been serviceable and Keith Kinkaid, a former member of the St. Louis Bandits, is finally getting a chance to be the backup all year.

I’d expect the Devils to cool off a little bit, but without the travel rigors Western Conference teams face, maybe New Jersey will sustain things a bit longer. After all, nobody is looking like they’re going to suddenly spring to life in the Metropolitan Division.

Arizona – Nov 9

The Coyotes are having a really rough go of things. Rick Tocchet is in his first season as their coach and people are already calling for his job in the desert.

Arizona played 13 games in October. They won one. When you think about it, that seems hard to do. You should be able to luck into at least three.

The Coyotes have a few veterans, but for the most part they tried to turn things over to their younger core. It clearly has not worked out yet.

Mike Smith, the longtime backbone in goal for Arizona was traded to Calgary in the offseason in a questionable move. It has not paid dividends as Arizona is giving up the most goals in the NHL.

There doesn’t seem to be any way out of this rabbit hole for the Coyotes this season. It’s going to be a year of a lot of growing pains.

New York Islanders – Nov 11

We’ve already faced the Islanders earlier this season. The Blues came out on top in Brooklyn with a 3-2 shootout win.

New York is still doing alright in their division, entering November in third. They have Pittsburgh on their heels though and they still don’t seem to have that right mix to be a danger yet.