The St. Louis Blues are in the middle game of a west coast swing. After playing fine in San Jose, with nothing to show for it, they have another game, this time against the LA Kings.
The St. Louis Blues may have their final chance to get back into the playoff picture today. While this is still not mathematically a must-win game, it’s about as close as you’re going to get.
The Los Angeles Kings currently hold the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. They lead the Blues by four points in the standings.
A loss today would not eliminate St. Louis, but suddenly you are six points back instead of two points, if the Blues somehow managed to win. That’s a huge difference.
The playoff hopes of this once promising team are quickly beginning to fade. They could not score against the San Jose Sharks, despite a dominating goaltending performance by Jake Allen.
That goose egg was the third time the Blues have been shutout in the past six games. That is not a recipe for success, even by the most offensively challenged teams.
St. Louis has to find a way to get a puck into the back of the net. Take a run at a goaltender, throw caution to the wind defensively, do something. It isn’t as though the Blues have been defensive dynamos anyway, so at least try to light the lamp for once.
It’s been difficult to watch lately. Even the most optimistic among us just feel depressed by these performances and sports, especially hockey, is supposed to be a nice release from the everyday grind.
Hopefully the Blues snap out of it. However, as The Fast Lane on 101ESPN said, that might actually be more frustrating. At least it would be entertaining though.
Know Thy Enemy
The LA Kings have not exactly set the world on fire themselves this season. As mentioned, they are four points ahead of the Blues. They had to go 7-3-0 in their last 10 games to get that far ahead though.
That is what is so frustrating about St. Louis. Despite their awful run, if they’d have played .500 lately, they’d still be in charge. I digress.
The Kings are not the team St. Louis needed to be facing, given their goal scoring crisis. LA has given up 166 goals to date. That is the second fewest in the entire NHL. Only Boston has allowed fewer, with 165.
Showing they mean business, the Kings squashed the then Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals 3-1 on Thursday. They will look to do more of the same this afternoon against the Blues.
The Kings trail the Anaheim Ducks, who are idle until they play the Blues on March 12, by one point. A win for them today would put them back in the third playoff spot for the Pacific Division.
LA is a healthy team right now. Everyone has their dings, but the Kings have no players out with any long-term injuries.
The one surprising stat of the day regards Jonathan Quick. Despite his domination in the playoffs, Quick is 8-11-3 lifetime against St. Louis in the regular season. At least we have that going for us…which is nice.
St. Louis is a dreadful 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. Funny how even being under .500 would likely have the Blues still in a playoff spot as opposed to one win in 10 games.
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The Blues have split the season series with the Kings so far. The Blues won 4-2 back in October and then lost 4-1 in December. Both of those were home games.
St. Louis is 2-2-1 in their last five games in Los Angeles, so basically this game is a coin toss if you base it solely on recent history.
According to the team website, the Blues have some decent streaks going against the silver and black.
"– Vladimir Tarasenko has 14 points in 16 career games (eight goals, six assists)– Jaden Schwartz has seven points in his last seven games (four goals, three assists)– Alexander Steen has four points in his last four games (one goal, three assists)– Alex Pietrangelo has three assists in his last three games– Allen is 4-2-0 with a 1.86 goals-against average, a .939 save-percentage and one shutout in six career starts against the Kings."
Schwartz, Schenn, Tarasenko
Berglund, Brodziak, Steen
Soshnikov, Sobotka, Jaskin
Thompson, Barbashev and Thorburn.
We will try to have this portion updated prior to the game. However, expect a lineup similar to the San Jose game.
The only options the Blues have are using Chris Thorburn and potentially having Joel Edmundson return.
Where To Watch
Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports West, NHL Network US
Fox Sports Go App, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
Y98, y98.com, Blues app
The puck drops on this one at 3 pm Central Time.
At this point, there is no reason to think the Blues will win. I can’t imagine them going winless the rest of the season, but until they prove they can beat anyone but Detroit, it is possible.
Games against the Kings always feel like games against Nashville. Even when the Blues are at their best, it always feels like it’s going to go south in a hurry.
I think the Blues keep this one close for a good while, like they did in San Jose, but their inability to score will show up once more.
St. Louis will likely allow a goal in the second and third and then an empty netter. I’ll say they lose 3-1.
A win would be fantastic. At this point, it would be nice just to see a win, regardless of playoff implications. We will see how these guys choose to play.