The St. Louis Blues begin their final stretch run of the season with their toughest test. It’s the Blues and the Washington Capitals with so much on the line, tonight.
The St. Louis Blues have not had a game that was without a must-win feel for quite some time. Despite this, they are still sitting on the edge of a knife.
Tonight, the blade threatens to cut them as they face the Washington Capitals for the final time in 2017-18. Of the Blues remaining games, this is the most difficult one on paper.
Washington just clinched their division and a third-straight 100 point season. That is not rarefied air as the Blues had several 100 point seasons, but it does show the Capitals consistency.
St. Louis will need to be on their toes right from the start in this one. Washington is one of those teams that cna bury you immediately and give no way back into the contest.
St. Louis also does not have the best record against the Capitals of late. So, picking up a win is going to go against their own norm, but is by no means impossible.
The Blues just ran out of gas in Arizona. Everyone was flipping out due to the record of the Coyotes, but Arizona had just beaten Tampa and Vegas. Also, Buffalo, the actual worst team in the NHL, beat Nashville. These things happen and it was just one of those nights. If St. Louis falls to Washington, it might be more expected, but it is also more time to panic.
Know Thy Enemy
Washington is not unbeatable. They have been close to it though. They enter tonight’s game with a record of 47-25-7.
The Caps are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. They just knocked off Pittsburgh to clinch the division last night, so the Blues will be hoping for a post-clinching hangover.
Washington is 20-15-5 though. So, having home ice does not necessarily give you an advantage.
The Capitals have four straight wins over St. Louis. The last one was a 4-3 overtime win back in January.
One of the places the Capitals are vulnerable is on the back end. They have allowed 230 goals.
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Washington has a healthy roster with only one name on the injury list. TJ Oshie is dealing with an upper body injury and will be a gametime decision.
St. Louis is back below the playoff line thanks to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks beat Colorado, but the game went into overtime. So, Colorado’s point put them a point ahead and Anaheim’s win put them three ahead. Los Angeles is now two ahead of St. Louis.
The Blues have not had much recent success against Washington. Their last win came in March of 2016, a 4-0 win in Washington. The last win over the Caps at home was in November of 2014.
St. Louis is trying to stay alive in the playoff hunt. This is the first of four games this week, two of which will be at home. The Blues will begin fan week with the jersey off the back night as well as several other giveaway possibilities this evening.
The Blues enter 43-29-6 tonight. They are currently at 92 points, but with the conference going the way it is, the west may set a new record for points by a team missing the playoffs.
In the bad news area, the Blues lost Scottie Upshall for the season. He suffered a lacerated kidney in the collision in Arizona near the boards.
The Blues don’t have a ton of success against Washington, but a few players have some hot streaks against the Caps:
"– Jaden Schwartz has four points in his last two games (one goal, three assists)– Alexander Steen has seven points in his last four games (five goals, two assists)– Vladimir Tarasenko has seven points in his last six games (six goals, one assist)– Alex Pietrangelo has three points in five career games (one goal, two assists)"
Where To Watch
Fox Sports Midwest, NHL Network, NBC Sports Washington
Fox Sports Go, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
KMOX, KMOX.com, Blues app
The Blues just have to come out firing on all cylinders. Anything less and I don’t expect a good result by the end of the night.
The season is giving us less and less of a reason to believe. Injuries are piling back up and the way the Blues lost their last game was an indicator that they’re on fumes.
That said, there should be enough there for one final push.
I think Washington will have a post-clinching hangover. They have nothing left to play for other than pride. You can say they want to stay hot for the playoffs, but that’s never really true for the top teams. They’d just as soon rest people than risk injury trying to maintain any momentum.
That said, this will not be an easy game. You have so many weapons to contain that it will be hard to do so.
I still feel the Blues will pull this one out. It may take another overtime to do so, but we will go with a 4-3 win for the boys in blue.