Sometimes you just come up against an opponent below you in the standings who wants those two points more than you do. The Blues are going to have to deal with a very hungry Islanders team trying to claw their way into the postseason.
Tuesday night's game was, by all accounts, not a good effort from the Blues. Flat skating, lack of speed, and a definite lack of finish cost them two points against an opponent that they should have been able to beat. Say what you want about the buzzer beater from James Wisniewski and if the time clock was accurate (it probably was), things like that weren't the Blues problem. Thinking too much, trying to do one step too many -- or in Chris Stewart's case on the near goal, trying to do too little -- all of these things combined to give the Blues a loss that they deserved.
Hopefully tonight they get the fire back into their skates. Tuesday night should have been a wake-up call to the team; you can't give a halfway effort against any team in the NHL. You certainly can't give a half-effort against the New York Islanders. Led by John Tavares and Evgeny Nabokov, this young team is playing with some serious determination right now. Sitting eight points out of the playoffs and coming off a dominant win against the Winnipeg Jets, the Islanders have momentum. They're a team that their leadership corps, especially Tavares, believes in, and that belief can be dangerous.
Do you know what else is dangerous? Healthy players -- and the Blues have two more coming back tonight. Fresh on the return of Andy McDonald comes Jason Arnott, who the Blues activated off of IR today. Also returning is defenseman Kent Huskins, who will be filling in for an injured Carlo Colaiacovo. Colaiacovo slipped during practice and injured his right wrist, according to Lou Korac. He should be ok for Saturday's game.
The missing cog for the Blues right now is Alexander Steen, but don't hold your breath for a return soon. The Blues are being smart about him and letting him move at his own pace. He did practice, so that's a good sign.
Tonight's goaltender match up will be the aforementioned Nabokov against the league's GAA leader, Brian Elliott. Elliott (as well as Halak) has been solid on home ice with only 19 goals allowed in 13 games, and a miniscule 1.44 GAA. Of course, if he turns in a stellar performance a la Halak's on Thursday, if the Blues don't score to back him up it won't matter. Scoring helps, and with pieces getting healthy the team's looking to the underperformance of their star forwards to help fix that problem.