ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 4: Jason Arnott #44 of the St. Louis Blues looks or a pass after loosing his helmet against the Vancouver Canucks at the Scottrade Center on November 4, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Nothing is more unexpected for Blues fans to see their team challenging last year's Western Conference Champions for the lead in this year's playoff picture. They've already won two against the 'Nucks - can they make it three?
It's flabbergasting to people to glance at the standings and see the Blues sitting atop the Central Division and second in the Western Conference. Isn't that space reserved for Detroit? Chicago? I don't see any reserved signs there, do you?
Good, because the Blues have parked themselves in that space and don't seem to be backing out anytime soon. A masterful 3-0 shutout of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night continued the Blues' shutout streak that began in the 3rd period of the team's 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The Blues have been stingy with the shots that they allow - Halak had to make just 19 saves on Thursday and Brian Elliott had to make just 15 saves for his shutout over the Colorado Avalanche. The offensive corps has completely manhandled and shut down the top lines of the opposition, with David Backes and T.J. Oshie plowing through the smaller Habs.
The Canucks aren't shrinking violets as far as size goes, but they don't compare to the Blues in the desire for physicality. Brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin have not had much success against St. Louis, nor has Ryan Kesler. In two games this season, Kesler's the only one out of those three on the point sheet with a goal. How good have the Blues been? Henrik spoke to Jeremy Rutherford and didn't give the typical answer of an opponent:
"I absolutely think for sure they're going to make the playoffs (this season). They're a tough team to play and I can't see them missing the playoffs. They're playing extremely well, as well as anyone in the league. It looks like 'Hitch' is getting the best out of that group."
Well, that was nice of him.
Unfortunately for the Blues, they might be short Barret Jackman. Jackman went hard into the boards after legally being checked hard by P.K. Subban and hit his hip. It takes a lot to keep Jackman from playing, but just in case the Blues recalled Cade Fairchild again from the Peoria Rivermen to plug in if needed.
Alex Steen passed his baseline concussion test and looks like he could be good to go tonight. That added speed and scoring touch should help the Blues out. It's looking to be a battle of the "not-a-backups" tonight with Brian Elliott in net for the Blues and Cory Schneider in net for Vancouver.