The St. Louis Blues put their perfect 4-0 record on the line in Florida against the Panthers. The Blues will be playing their third game in four days, a bit of a grueling schedule this early in the season. They’ve handled it extremely well thus far in 2017. The Blues have had their chances to do much more than just have a good time during the regular season for the last five years. However, each time in the playoffs, the Blues have been unable to pull it off. Last season the Blues were bounced by the Nashville Predators in the second-round. The year before that looked like their best chance, though, in 2016. They got to the Western Conference Finals, only to lose to the San Jose Sharks. It looked like it was finally their year, but the Sharks were not going to be stopped.
Last year was supposed to be a happy farewell for Ken Hitchcock. Instead, he was fired in February and was replaced with Mike Yeo. I was really surprised that they decided to fire Hitchcock when they did. At the least, you would have thought they were going to let him finish up the season. Everyone thought his career was done at that point, but here he is coaching still, for the Dallas Stars. If you want to talk about a surprising firing, though, look no further than former Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant. In a move that was largely criticized, Gallant was fired immediately following a game against the Carolina Hurricanes, on the road. Images surfaced of Gallant taking a taxi to the airport to get back home. Geesh.
Gallant seems to be doing alright as the head coach of the Golden Knights now, though. Ex-Windsor Spitfires head coach and ex-assistant of the San Jose Sharks, Bob Boughner, is now behind the bench as the head coach of the Panthers. Boughner did wonders for the Spitfires, leading them to a Memorial Cup, and then helping guide the Sharks to the finals as an assistant. Everything has been relatively easy and smooth sailing for him. I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for him in Florida, though. Let’s get to the pick below.
St. Louis Blues vs. Florida Panthers Pick
The Blues have made it look quite simple to open the season. They’re 4-0-0 with wins over the Penguins, Stars, Islanders, and Rangers. That’s a pretty impressive lineup of wins for the Blues. If they want to be taken seriously in 2017-18, those are the games they must win. For me, though, the Blues are dead to me in the regular season. Do something in the playoffs and reach the Stanley Cup Finals and then I will give the Blues credit. The offence has been playing well, averaging 3.75 goals per game. They haven’t scored less than 3 goals in a game, yet. The defence has done a fine job too, with 2.75 goals allowed.
While the Blues have already played four games, the Panthers are only two games in and have played just two teams, the Lightning. The Panthers lost 5-3 and then won 5-4 in the following meeting. That was on October 7th, so the Panthers have had an extended break. Meanwhile, like I said, the Blues are playing three games in four nights. Additionally, this will be their third straight game on the road. This will be their fourth game on the road already this season. Something has to give for the Blues, and I like the opportunity for a spot bet on the Panthers tonight at home.
PICK: PANTHERS (-120)