The St. Louis Blues take on the Minnesota Wild for the final time in 2017-18. While they have no reason to be optimistic, it’s time to shake off the cobwebs and get to work.
The St. Louis Blues just cannot seem to catch a break right now. They’ve had one of the tougher schedules over the last couple weeks and there is no reprieve in sight.
Much of the team’s troubles are of their own making. They have no excuses for not executing, not scoring and not playing up to their potential. That said, facing so many teams with stellar records could not have come at a worse time.
The situation looked like a golden one a few weeks ago. When the team’s struggles had not reached epic proportions, the ability to face so many divisional teams was a great opportunity to pick up points and have four point swings.
Instead, the Blues just seem like a team desperately treading water, praying for an life preserver to come along before their head goes below the water line.
As we all know by now, no help came at the trade deadline. The players have to find it within themselves to get over the disappointment of losing a teammate and push on. It’s a soldier’s mentality and hard to come by. St. Louis better find a way to do that or they’ll be golfing even earlier than normal.
Know Thy Foe
The Minnesota Wild are having the opposite season they saw a year ago. In 2016-17, they had the hottest start in the NHL only to tank toward the end of the year. In 2017-18 they started off pretty slow, but are now one of the hotter teams in the entire league.
The Wild are 7-1-2 over their last 10 games. They’ve won four straight games as well, including a 3-2 win over San Jose in their last contest.
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Minnesota squashed the Blues in their last meeting on February 6. The final was 6-2 and it probably was not even that close. The Wild are 2-1-0 in three games against the Blues.
Like so many of the good teams in the Western Conference, the Wild have been dominant at home. On the road is where they have struggled, but that will not be a worry tonight
The Blues have no excuses, but will need to be on their toes in St. Paul. Minnesota is 21-5-6 on their home ice, though the Blues kept their one game in Minnesota tight. They did lose, but it was 2-1 in OT.
St. Louis is trying to end a season-long six game losing streak. Of course, they will be trying to win without Paul Stastny, who is no longer a member of the team for the first time in four seasons.
The Blues have to find a way to beat Devan Dubnyk, which has been a problem for them for some time. The Blues 6-2 win earlier this year was the first time in over a year they had gotten more than three goals past him in a non-playoff contest.
Some of the Blues have pretty good streaks according to the team website:
"HOT VS. WILD– Alexander Steen has 14 points in his last 14 games (three goals, 11 assists)– Jaden Schwartz has seven points in his last seven games (five goals, two assists)– Vladimir Tarasenko has scored six points in his last six games (three goals, three assists)– Brayden Schenn has nine points in 12 career games (one goal, eight assists)– Jake Allen is 5-1-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .921 save-percentage in his last seven starts against the Wild"
Tonight is the second of three games broadcast on the NBC networks.
Alexander Steen – Ivan Barbashev – Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Nikita Soshnikov
Patrik Berglund – Vladimir Sobotka – Tage Thompson
Scottie Upshall – Kyle Brodziak – Dmitrij Jaskin
I feel bad for Jake if the team continues to struggle. However, eventually he has to figure out his own game regardless. It is clear the team struggles to score regardless of who is in net, so Allen just has to be calm and composed.
The top line is a bit frightening. The trade of Stastny made sense and he never quite clicked with Tarasenko. That said, it looks like the need for a center for Vlady will be a priority again.
Where To Watch
NBC Sports App, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
KMOX, KMOX.com, Blues app
I’ll be honest, I have no clue how this game will go. We might see some fight from the players now they know they cannot be traded. We might see them roll over and die once more.
If you force me to pick a score, I still don’t have a clear mind of it. If the Blues lose, it’s going to be another 5-2 kind of game. If they win, I think it’ll be something like 2-1 or 3-2.
Those are a lot of options, clearly. That’s why I’m not generally a betting man.
What I do hope to see is more of a team effort. The Blues faced a similar situation when they were essentially sellers at the deadline last season. They went on a huge run to put themselves in a divisional playoff spot.
Nobody is expecting that this year, but a little spirit and some fight would be nice to see. This is a depleted team without Stastny, regardless of how you felt about him or his contract. The players left must step up.