VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 26: Goalie Brian Elliot #1 of the St Louis Blues stops Kevin Bieksa #3 of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in NHL action on October 26, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
A win over Vancouver will place the Blues back atop the Western Conference standings again. Are they up to the challenge of taking on last year's Western Conference champions?
The Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues have a bit of a contentious past. The Canucks swept the Blues out of their first post-lockout playoff experience in 2009, and the Blues and their fans haven't seemed to let that pass. Factor in the fact that the Canucks are consistently one of the best teams in the NHL year in, year out, and play their butts off in a rougher style than they get credit for, and you get why the Blues tend to step up their game against them.
Well, step up there game during regular play. Factor in overtime stick breakages and people leaving the ice at the wrong time to grab a stick (T.J. Oshie, I'm looking at you) , and you get why the Blues lost their last match-up in January 3-2 in overtime. What's impressive is that the Blues have gotten five out of six possible points from the Canucks so far this season, and getting seven of eight will put them atop of the Western Conference.
Brian Elliott is getting another start against the Canucks. He's been masterful against them this season, starting all three games and shutting them out the first one. It's tough to find a team that either Blues goalie isn't masterful against -- they both, for the first time in franchise history -- have twenty wins on the season. If you want to look at why the Blues have been so successful this year, the buck stops with Elliott and Jaroslav Halak.
Offensively they haven't been a high scoring team on a regular basis, but they did open up the can of whoop-butt on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday evening. The Blues lit them up for five goals, including two from Andy McDonald and a penalty shot goal from Chris Stewart. They rebounded from a questionable second period where they gave up two goals to the Oilers to dominate the third, which is just the kind of response that will be needed tonight against a team that is one of the hardest working and most talented in the league.