The St. Louis Blues begin one of their most important weeks of the season tonight. They faceoff against the Minnesota Wild for the third time this season and the second time at home.
The St. Louis Blues take on the Minnesota Wild tonight. It is the first game of what might be one of their most important weeks of the season.
St. Louis has three games this week. All three games are against Central Division opponents, either chasing the Blues or directly ahead.
The Blues are now in a position where they cannot afford to look ahead. They have to be singularly focused on each opponent in front of them and each different dynamic that club will bring. St. Louis will begin with the Minnesota Wild.
The Blues have taken on Minnesota two times already this season and come out with mixed results. St. Louis is 1-0-1 in those two games so far.
The home teams have won both games so far, which could bode well for the Blues tonight. They are playing at the Scottrade Center, where St. Louis won 6-3 back on November 25.
The last time these teams saw each other was on December 2. Minnesota won that game, at home, by a thin margin of 2-1 in overtime.
While the rosters have a decent amount of turnover, these teams are quite familiar with each other, beyond just being divisional rivals. They’ve faced each other in the first round of the playoffs two times out of the last three years. The Blues won this past spring, while Minnesota pulled the upset back in 2015.
It is an incredibly important game for both teams. Minnesota is six points back of the Blues, but they are only one point ahead of three teams nipping at their heels for that last playoff spot.
Know Thy Enemy
Minnesota was red hot until their last game. While the Blues were squeaking by Buffalo, the Wild lost to Dallas on the same night by a score of 3-1.
Despite that, the Wild are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. That’s been good enough to push themselves past Colorado, Anaheim and Calgary – those three teams just mentioned.
Minnesota has had a surge in offense lately, pushing themselves into a tie with the Blues in goals scored. Each team has 153 so far this season.
The Wild have four players with 30-plus points and four players in double-digit goals scored. They are currently led by Eric Staal who has 22 goals and 46 points.
Devan Dubnyk has consistently been a thorn in the Blues side, even though he is having a less than stellar season for him. Currently he has numbers of .916 save percentage and 2.66 goals against.
The Blues have widened the gap lately in this rivalry. They’ve won six of the last eight regular season games and 10 of 14 including playoffs. They will still need to be on their toes with the Wild playing with hunger.
The Blues are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. However, despite a good record over that time, it’s been the offense that worries you.
St. Louis has gotten by with defense and goaltending. They only have two goals in their last two games and four goals in three games.
You can’t necessarily say the offense has dried up. Prior to a two game road trip, the Blues scored three goals in three straight. However, they cannot find any consistency with the offense.
Additionally, the power play troubles are starting to creep into their five on five play. The lack of quality shots and an ability to make too many passes is really starting to grate on fans.
The All-Star game has not had the hoped boost for Brayden Schenn either. The Blues center has one assist in three games since the break. His All-Star teammate, Alex Pietrangelo has no points since the break.
Where To Watch
NBC Sports Network
NBC Sports Live, NBC Sports App, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
KMOX, KMOX.com, Blues app
The puck drops on tonight’s game around 7 pm Central Time.
These have become harder as the season progresses, though I have been pretty good at guessing the scores. I think the Blues come out with a little more pop than they showed against Buffalo. Whether we see that in the first period or not is the question.
St. Louis has everything to play for, but so do the Wild. In the end, I think the Blues come out on top, but not by much.
3-2 will be the final. Right now, I will say it will be a regulation win, but an overtime game would not surprise me with how the offense has struggled.