Last night was a microcosm of what is wrong with the Blues. Three pieces of red meat return to help the Blues' anemic offense, and only one - T.J. Oshie - does any good. Oshie, playing on the top line with David Perron and David Backes, netted the Blues only goal in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators.
Thankfully for those who are interested in standings-watching this early in the season, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings last night, which put the Wings and the Blues in a points-tie for second in the Central Division (the Wings get it by virtue of having won more games than St. Louis). Tonight, with a win - which the Blues came so close to before getting winded and blowing the game on Tuesday - could get the Blues two points over the Wings to end 2011 in really good position.
Brian Elliott will be in goal again tonight. He allowed three goals on Tuesday, but generally played very well. With the way that either goaltender is playing right now, it's like two sides of the same coin. Either guy is probably going to get you a quality start. Jaroslav Halak, if the Blues could have converted on one more of their multitude of shots, should have had a win last night. The Red Wings, however, don't exactly have the two-sided coin thing down. Jimmy Howard has been outstanding all season, leading the league with 22 wins, and having a 1.99 GAA. Ty Conklin, not so much. Conkblock did not have a good season with the Blues last year, and it's continued in his return to the Red Wings. Howard has so many wins because the Wings can't play Conklin. He's 1-4-0 with a terrible 3.23 GAA and .889 SV%. Since Howard started last night in Chicago, there's a slim possibility that Conklin gets the start. With the game as important as it is, expect Howard.
The Blues scored twice on the power play before going back to their usual ways last night. That has to change if they want to beat the Wings. Also, try drawing penalties. God knows the Wings commit them - make them more obvious. If Pavel Datsyuk elbows Barret Jackman in the face this evening, Jax needs to show his displeasure. We all know he can do it.
I'm (apparently) hosting a New Year's Eve party tonight with this game as the centerpiece. I won't be available for updates as I need to pretend to entertain guests while watching hockey, so allow me this chance to wish everyone out there, Blues and Wings fans alike, a very happy New Year. Best wishes for 2012.
And when I say "best wishes," I would assume you'd translate that as "Blues win the Stanley Cup." Maybe I'll just yell that out at the party instead. Alcohol'll be involved, so it might be believable.