The St. Louis Blues have been on quite the roll their last two games. They will need that momentum as their opponent is surging lately as well
The St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins have taken quite different paths to where they are entering this morning’s game. Despite those differences, they’ve arrived at a very similar point in the standings.
Both teams enter today’s game as the second place team in their division. Both also hold a razor thin margin over the teams below them.
The interesting thing is the team’s differences though. After the team’s first meeting, they went in opposite directions and then opposite ways again come the winter. The Blues got off to a red-hot start, but Pittsburgh looked like they might actually miss the playoffs for a good portion of the first half.
Then, the Penguins got hot and surged up the standings. Meanwhile, the Blues started crumbling under the pressure of injuries, a condensed schedule and not “buying in” as the old phrase goes.
It’s been quite some time since these two played. The Blues and Penguins clashed twice in a little more than a week. At the end of September, St. Louis trounced the Penguins 4-1 in the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game. Then, the offense flowed like water as the Blues were victorious 5-4 in overtime on October 4.
Know Thy Enemy
Beyond just the similarities in the standings, the Penguins are one of the few NHL teams that have dealt with a similar schedule. Pittsburgh has kept pace with the Blues, unlike many teams and are currently one one behind in the games played column.
The Penguins are on a similar trajectory as the Blues right now. They are very up and down, but keeping themselves well above .500 over their last 10.
Currently, Pittsburgh is 30-22-4 with 64 points. They are 6-3-1 in their last ten. Unfortunately, that one OT loss was bad for the Blues. After St. Louis’ win over Winnipeg, it looked like they might get some room in the standings. Dallas took the Penguins to overtime that same night and won, keeping the margin between the two at one.
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The biggest difference between the Penguins and Blues is defense. As much as we get on their case for being flat-footed and all those things, they’ve allowed 143 goals. Pittsburgh has allowed 170 goals. To put that in perspective, they’ve score 170, so their defense has been as weak as their offense is strong.
The similarities continue as the two team’s superstars are having good seasons, but not compared to expectations. After leading the league in scoring last year, Sidney Crosby only has 17 goals this season. He does have 60 points though.
The Blues will need to stay out of the penalty box. Their penalty kill has been iffy of late and the Penguins still have the top power play at 26.6%.
St. Louis is now 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. They’ve won their last two games, since it’s been a roller coaster ride over that period.
The Blues offense has sprung back to life in recent times. They have 13 goals in their last three games and 11 in their last two.
If the Blues manage to win today, it would be the first time since 2013-14 that either team won the season series. They’ve split their two games over the last three years.
While I’m a fan of Jake Allen, I’m slightly surprised they’re going back to the Snake. It seemed as though the coaching staff was more than willing to keep rolling with Carter Hutton.
For the team and for Allen’s sake, I hope they continue to play well in front of him. Confidence is paramount at this point.
Where To Watch
NBC Sports Live, NBC Sports App, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
KMOX, KMOX.com, Blues app
The game is much earlier than normal. The puck drops at 11 am Central Time.
The Blues have a very mixed record in these morning games. If they can shrug that off, they have a very good shot at winning.
St. Louis has never really blinked at playing Pittsburgh, so I’m surprisingly confident about this game. The opponent does not scare me as much as the game time.
Call me an optimist, but I think they overcome the odd start. Blues win 4-3.