The St. Louis Blues hoped some home cooking would do them good, but they continued to falter. Now, it’s off to Anaheim in search of their winning ways.
The St. Louis Blues were hoping their first home stand after the All-Star break would help fix some of the things that were causing them issues. Unfortunately, after beating up on the Carolina Hurricanes, the Blues lost to the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars by a combined score of 7-4.
It was not the start the Blues wanted at home after playing so well at Enterprise Center in the first half. Now, it’s back on the road to begin a tough stretch of games that features games in Anaheim, in Vegas and then a home-and-home against the Nashville Predators.
First things first. The Anaheim Ducks are waiting at the Pond.
The Ducks are coming off a win in their last game. They are struggling to stay alive in the playoff race, so expect a motivated team.
How they stack up
The St. Louis Blues remain atop the Central Division and the Western Conference, but they have to start winning consistently or that will no longer be the case. Their lead over the Colorado Avalanche has dwindled down to three points and the Avs still have two games in hand on the Blues.
St. Louis enters this game with 73 points and a record of 32-15-9. St. Louis has lost two in a row and are 3-5-2 in their last 10.
Meanwhile, the Ducks won their last game as Ryan Miller returned to Buffalo and helped Anaheim take down the Sabres 3-2. With that win, the Ducks improved to 6-2-2 over their last 10, though they had lost two in a row prior to beating Buffalo.
Anaheim is 23-26-7 overall with 53 points. They have scored 146 goals and allowed 173.
Historically, the Blues have been somewhat mediocre against the Ducks. Their record overall against the franchise is around .500.
Fortunately, they have turned around a bad road record lately and won the last three games in Anaheim. This is on top of splitting two games against the Ducks at the Enterprise Center earlier this season.
Here is the projected lineup from the team website:
Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron
Schwartz – Schenn – Blais
Steen – Thomas – Bozak
MacEachern – Barbashev – Kyrou
Gunnarsson – Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester – Parayko
Dunn – Faulk
Other than the Justin Faulk pairing with Vince Dunn, I like this lineup. I think Sammy Blais will be a solid addition to Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn. He plays a straight line style and his physicality will allow the other two to focus more on the offensive side.
Robert Thomas moves back with Tyler Bozak. Their chemistry was undeniable before injuries forced them to other lines. Alex Steen is playing well, so he should fit in with that duo nicely.
Of course, you’d like to see Jordan Kyrou higher in the line chart. But, as long as he is in there, that’s fine.
Thank goodness Jake Allen is finally playing. Again, if you have not read my article on this, it is here.
Jordan Binnington is the starter. Few, if any games, have been his fault and he has kept the team in many games. However, his style and reaction time suggest possible fatigue, so there is no reason not to let him rest to prepare for the stretch run.
To this point, we have kind of told ourselves the losses have been OK since the lead in the division was still there. Now, the Blues cannot afford to mess around any longer.
The Avalanche are creepily breathing down the Blues necks like that scene from the new Invisible Man movie trailer. If you have not seen it, needless to say, the breath is coming very close.
Even if they still had a cushion, the Blues need to just get their act in gear. They have not defended well, the offense is spotty and the effort comes in spurts.
We all get it. They know they can turn things on come the playoffs, but they need to get home ice advantage.
With all that in mind, I think the Blues do realize it’s time to re-find their top gear.
I think they come out strong and find a way to win. The Ducks will sneak some in, but the Blues take it 3-2.