There's just something about the St. Louis Blues when it comes to the Colorado Avalanche. They've already lost twice to them this season, both times in Denver. They lost every game in Denver last year, both before and after the Chris "Blues Killer" Stewart trade that fans assumed would fix everything. It doesn't matter who is in net. Semyon Varlamov? Lost 3-2 in the shootout back on Dec. 2nd. J.S. Giguere? Lost in regulation 3-2 on Dec. 21st. They won their match-up on April 5th 3-1, but that almost seemed like a happy fluke. They've won just one game out of six in the past two seasons against Colorado. That team is their kryptonite.
Don't get me wrong - the Avalanche have been playing very good hockey recently. They shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 last night. They're 23-18-1 so far this year, only seven wins off of their total for last season. Their power play is tenth in the league (the Blues' is up to 24th, so yay there), and they are finally doing everything right on a consistent basis. The fact that the Blues couldn't beat them when they were terrible last season doesn't bode well for St. Louis now that Colorado's good.
The Blues have the best home record in the NHL, though, and the success is feeding into itself to build momentum that is flat-out shocking. The Blues came back from a terrible second period Thursday night to win 4-3 over the Edmonton Oilers in a comeback bid that seemed impossible. Making the impossible possible is a hallmark of a good team who works to get what they want. A team that's been labeled as "young" and "immature" is having articles written in the Post-Dispatch heralding their maturity. Both goaltenders have settled into being one of the most solid tandems in the league, with Brian Elliott starting for the Blues tonight (J.S. Giguere is in net for Colorado with Varlamov getting the shut-out against Colorado on Friday night).
More proof for how much the Blues have matured and how much better they've gotten? A win and a Detroit Red Wings loss tonight puts them atop the Central Division and second in the West (a Canucks loss Saturday against the Boston Bruins would put the Blues in first, but that didn't happen). Only four teams have more points than the Blues, and a win tonight'll make it three. What separates this year from last year's team, who were successful before dropping out of the playoff picture? The aforementioned maturity, their consistency, and the fact that they don't get discouraged and give up during a tough game. Factor in an eventually healthy line-up (it'll happen), and they're going to get better.
Speaking of injuries, Ryan Reaves might get back into the line-up tonight for some added punch, which games against the Avalanche always require.