Mar 10, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Dane Byers (34) fights with St. Louis Blues right wing B.J. Crombeen (26) during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Last night's game was full of physicality, partially from the Blues' domination of Columbus and partially from Columbus' frustration at how the game was going. Look for some conflicts to be resolved tonight.
The Blues, shockingly enough, have not been able to win five games in a row. It's pretty flabbergasting when you consider that teams with worse records, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, are able to string together seven -- while the team with the best record in the NHL seems stuck on four. Luckily for the Blues, they might be able to get to five tonight against the Blue Jackets. Unluckily for both teams, it's the second half of a home and home. Factor in an earlier Eastern Time Zone start time and the time change from this morning, and chances are good that both teams will be a little fatigued.
Also fatigued should be goaltender Curtis Sanford. Sanford faced 25 shots last night, allowing four goals. Since the Blue Jackets' other option in net is ECHL goaltender Allen York, Sanford's going to have to face more shots tonight. The Blues should be able to exploit the winded goaltender, and they're holding the goalie advantage as well. Jaroslav Halak will be in net tonight, rested and ready to go.
The last two times these teams met in Columbus, the Blues lost a game that they shouldn't've won 2-1. Teams with terrible records can sometimes humble the best teams in the league, and while that wasn't true last night, it still is always a possibility. Chances are better, though, that someone's going to get physically humbled. Rick Nash and Barret Jackman went after each other all game last night, Chris Porter took out Darryl Boyce after a cheap shot in response to a clean hit, and B.J. Crombeen scrapped it up with Dane Byers.
With a win tonight, the Blues can increase their lead on the Detroit Red Wings to six games, and over the Vancouver Canucks to five. Getting to the top of the division and league is a special thing, but staying atop the league is even harder. The Blues might be the first team to lead the NHL while flying completely under the media's radar, and that's a good thing.