(Photo: Ed Mulholland / USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Blues are one of if not THE hottest teams in sports lately. They’ve managed to climb all the way from last in the NHL just after New Year’s into the first wildcard spot in the Western division in just a little over a month.
In that stretch, the Blues are 12-4-1 and have outscored their opponents 53-36 for a +17 goal differential. They’ve put together 6 straight wins including a shutout over the league’s best Tampa Bay Lightning and a 2-game sweep over their division rival Nashville Predators this past weekend.
When asked after the home victory over Nashville what one thing Coach Craig Berube could point to that’s been the difference, he said “It’s not one thing.”
Could it be the outstanding play of rookie goaltender, Jordan Binnington? Yes. What about the balanced scoring from multiple lines and the defense? Yes. Would the resurgence of Vladimir Tarasenko have anything to do with it? Yes. How about the shut-down defense this team has played lately? Yes.
Berube is right, it’s not just one thing. This team is playing together, playing for each other and doing what it takes to win hockey games and it’s been a ton of fun to watch. Excitement is building in the Gateway City.
Considering that they’ve done all of this without David Perron (IR-upper body) and no goals from Jaden Schwartz in over 20 games, it’s promising to think that this team could get even better yet.
The Blues host a struggling New Jersey Devils team in only their 3rd home game in the past 30 days. St. Louis have been road warriors this year and need to improve on their record at Enterprise Center if they’re to be a legitimate contender this year in the home stretch of the season and hopefully into the playoffs.
The Devils are led in scoring by Kyle Palmieri (23G,18A,41Pts), Tyler Hall (11G,26A,37Pts), and Nico Hischier (16G,23A,39Pts).
Keith Kinkaid will start for the Devils in net. He is 2-3-0 in his last 5 starts. He is 0-3-1 against the Blues with a career .891 Sv% and a 3.42 GAA.
Team Records/Points/Standings (prior to the game)
- Blues: 27-22-5 59pts 1st Wildcard spot in West
- Devils: 21-26-8 50pts 3rd from bottom in East