A full night of action in the NHL tonight, with twelve games on the card to choose from. When football season is over, there is typically hockey all day long on Saturdays. I will be watching college football all day long, and then turn my attention to the ice for the late night hours today. We head out to the west coast for the St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames. The Blues are in danger of dropping their third straight game, and third straight game on the west coast. They already have losses against the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, a loss to the Flames would complete the west coast Canadian trifecta. Despite their struggles in the last two games, the Blues are sitting nicely with a record of 3-1-1. It’s kind of difficult to talk about any record being impressive with such a small sample size, but I’m just trying to point out how all is not lost after the losses to the Canucks and Oilers.
If the loss to the Oilers had to grind anyone’s teeth it was Nail Yakupov. The former Oiler was acquired by the Blues this offseason. Needless to say the homecoming didn’t go over so well in Edmonton on Thursday night. There is going to be another reunion of sorts tonight in Calgary. Brian Elliott will face the Blues for the first time since leaving the team this past summer. I am sure Elliott would love nothing more than to shut the door on his former team tonight. The Flames have struggled dearly on the defensive end, yet again this season, so it may have to take a stellar performance from Elliott. I am sure it would be a satisfying win for Elliott if the Flames can do it tonight.
Or, this may not even happen and the Blues go with Chad Johnson. If they do, I can’t imagine Elliott is going to be too happy not getting the opportunity to play his former team. The most important thing for the Blues is to regroup and not get caught up in the previous two losses. They are a good team and can’t dwell on those two bad losses. Jake Allen was the understudy to Elliott in St. Louis. Tonight they will meet on the ice for the first time in different jerseys.
I had the Blues a couple of nights ago against the Oilers and they came up short. It was bad loss for the Blues, but every great team is going to run into bad losses over the course of a full season. The Oilers have surprisingly been off to a nice start, so perhaps they are actually a better team than we were led to believe. Remember when the Flames were projected to be one of the worst teams in the NHL a couple years ago and they ended up making the playoffs? Maybe the Oilers can find some of that same magic. Ever since then, the Flames have fallen off the map, though. Calgary had a setback a year ago, unable to find the same magic they had the year prior. Elliott got the nod last game against the Hurricanes and didn’t look good again. He has posted an abysmal save percentage of 0.839. Conversely, Chad Johnson has a mark of 0.923.
The Flames are allowing 4 goals per game thus far, showing that there are probably going to be more woes on the defensive end for the Flames again this season. They are 29th in that regard. I know it’s a small sample size this early in the season, but I expect the Flames to be back there throughout the season. The Blues have gone 6-1 against the Flames in their last seven meetings, including 8-2 in their last ten. Three of the wins for the Blues were on the road in Calgary. I see the offense getting into motion for the Blues tonight, which has struggled with only 2 goals in their last two games. Expect a much better effort from the Blues tonight.
PICK: BLUES TO WIN -120