The Blues jet off to Minnesota to face off against the Wild in their second game in two nights. Can David Backes and T.J. Oshie continue their solid play, and will it rub off on the rest of the top six?
The Blues play their second game in two nights with an evening tilt in Minnesota to take on the Wild. They're just coming off a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks in which T.J. Oshie had two goals and an assist and Brian Elliott got his fifth win of the season. Elliott seems to be the goaltender of record in St. Louis, with coach Davis Payne implying as much in starting him at home during this back to back. It's usually assumed that the starter gets the home start and the backup, if necessary, gets the start on the road game. Halak is the probable starter for tonight, so take that as you will.
Halak's only faced the Wild three times, and it wasn't pretty. He has a 0-1-2 record with a 3.42 GAA and a .880 save percentage. The upside of that is both numbers are higher than his numbers so far on the season. Minnesota should be going with their backup, Josh Harding, in net for the fourth game in a row. Harding's had an excellent season so far, with a 3-0-1 record and a league-leading .964 save percentage and a 1.22 goals against average which is second in the league. Minnesota's starter, Niklas Backstrom, hasn't had Halak's problems. Backstrom is 3-3-2 so far with a .912 SV% and a 2.30 GAA, so more than likely this is just a case of Wild coach Mike Yeo riding the hot hand.
The Blues' special teams turned in another stinker last night, allowing a power play goal and failing to convert on three power play chances. The Wild haven't exactly been stellar with their special teams, either. They rank 27th in the league on the power play with an 11.8 conversion rate, though their penalty kill is better at 19th in the league (81.4%). The Blues'll have to cut back on the over-thinking if they want to net a powerplay goal against the Wild.
The Wild are always a tough opponent to match up against, with the Wild holding a 3-1-0 record over the Blues last season. Twice games went to a shootout, though, so that means that tonight's game is likely going to be a hard fought one as well.