The St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes meet Sunday afternoon, as both look to break out of mini funks. The Blues were hotter than any team in the NHL after Jaden Schwartz return to the lineup. They won 5 straight games on the back of Schwartz but have since lost three games in a row. I keep mentioning how imperative it is for the Blues to stay healthy, and soon as they do, a few injuries rear their ugly head. Starting goaltender Brian Elliot is out until late March with a lower-body injury. The same goes for Alex Steen, who will be out until late March. Jori Lehtera? He was hit in the face a few games ago and is questionable to play this afternoon. Just a series of unfortunate events unfolded for the Blues as soon as they were playing at full strength. Now they are going to have to wait, again, to get back to full strength.
This has been the reoccurring theme for the Blues, get injured and destroy any chance at doing damage in the playoffs. We are still a couple months out from the playoffs, but is there anything to suggest they are going to be completely healthy for the postseason? It’s hard to put any future bet on the Blues, given their history of the injury bug.
With Steen out until late March, the Blues will be without a 17 goal scorer and guy who has dished out 30 assists. Lehtera has scored 7 goals and 20 assists. The Blues are now forced with switching the lines up and trying to find some chemistry between what they have to work with. No doubt about it, there is a lot of offense gone out the door without Steen in the lineup. With the case of Elliot, Jake Allen is one of the best backups in the NHL, so Allen should be able to hold up at his end. In any case, we’ll see how they do this afternoon on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes.
St. Louis Blues vs. Carolina Hurricanes NHL Pick
The Canes are one of those teams who can show up one night against a really good team, and then in another instance look horrendous against an inferior opponent. They are a wildcard team for sure, who is hard to get a complete handle on. Which Hurricanes team is going to show up tonight? Is a good way of looking at them. They catch the Blues on a bit of a hangover after they won those 5 games in a row. The Hurricanes, though, have lost two in a row as well, to the Maple Leafs of all teams, and the Boston Bruins. The Hurricane offense was stagnant, as they scored just 1 goal in each game. That is essentially the conundrum with the Hurricanes, their offense does not have enough firepower, averaging 2.43 goals per game for 24th in the league. In their last ten games, they have scored 2.40 goals a game.
As far as the Blues are concerned, I think it is going to be interesting to see where their offense goes in the next month. Steen has been a valuable piece of the offense and will now be gone. Note that in their last ten games, the Blues have scored 1 goal or none in seven times, 70% of the time. Last night they lost 5-0 to the Predators. In their last two games, they’ve scored only 1 goal. Jake Allen will look to stymie the Hurricanes, who has a 2.25 GAA this season, good for 10th in the NHL.
I think they are going to need all of him today, because I feel we’re going to see the Blues’ offense regress the next few weeks. Allen has a terrific history against the Hurricanes, posting a 1.54 GAA. Long-time Hurricane, Cam Ward, should be getting the nod for Carolina today. Ward owns a 2.37 GAA, and like Allen, holds excellent numbers against his opponent. Here with Ward, he has a career 1.62 GAA and 0.95 save percentage against St. Louis. I see an ugly low scoring 2-1 kind of game in Carolina this afternoon.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-110)