if there's a positive aspect of the Blues' huge six game road trip, it's that they're ending it against an opponent that they're 3-0 with two shutouts against this season. The San Jose Sharks haven't been playing well as of late, losing their hold on the top of the Pacific Division standings, the Sharks are 3-6-1 in their last ten games and are holding onto a playoff spot by just three points. They're not able to score, and against the Blues that's something you need to do to win.
The exception to that rule came on Thursday night in Vancouver, where the Blues were pooped by the start of the third period. Brian Elliott allowed just one goal and the Canucks scored an empty netter to give Vancouver a 2-0 win. The Blues were winded, and there's no questioning why. They will have played six games in nine nights, and the schedule gets no easier from here on out. The Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz pointed out some harrowing facts regarding the Blues schedule, especially in relation to other Central Division teams:
If you think the Blues’ schedule seems a bit harsh and unfair, then you are on to something. I worked the numbers to see how the Blues’ heavy load of back-to-back games compares to Western Conference rivals Detroit, Vancouver and Nashville. The answer: It’s ridiculous.
The Blues have back-to-back games on the schedule 17 times this season compared to 13 for Detroit and 11 each for Nashville and Vancouver. And the Blues are the road team in 13 of the 17 games played on consecutive nights — meaning that they have to travel after the first game and play again in less than 24 hours. The Blues’ record so far in the second game of the back-to-back sequence is 5-8-1. So it’s making a difference.
There’s more: Since Jan. 1, the Blues have had six back-to-back clusters on the schedule; Detroit has had only one. The Blues will end up with a total of nine back-to-back tests after Jan. 1; Detroit has only three. Vancouver and Nashville will have six. And among the four contenders, the Blues are the only team that will finish the regular season with games on consecutive days.
More: In the Central division, the Blues play a division rival eight times in the second game of a back-to-back sequence. Detroit (five) and Nashville (four) have fewer games against division rivals in the second game of back-to-back scheduling.
Who in the world in the NHL scheduling department did the Blues tick off? It doesn't make a difference in the end, because the Blues're expected to fight their way through it. As well as they've played on this road trip they probably will. Still, it's tough. It will be nice for the Blues to get back into the Central Time Zone and have their internal clocks get regulated again. This time zone hopping is for the birds.