The Colorado Avalanche host their Central Division rival St. Louis Blues tonight before heading out on a four-game road trip.
The Colorado Avalanche are a good team right now. They might even be a, *gasp* good team, period. They certainly have the hottest line in the NHL, and a decent enough supporting cast to keep the puck moving.
Judging by their record, the St. Louis Blues are… not a good team right now. They’re 8-12-3 on the year, and we’re just waiting for Ryan O’Reilly to claim he’s demoralized again.
The St. Louis Blues are still an NHL team made up of NHLers, so it’s never wise to discount a team completely.
The 15-6-4 Avalanche are coming off a wild 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve won six straight and eight out of the last nine — and they even got a point in that ninth game as they went to overtime. (Just 22 seconds, but that’s good enough for a point.)
The St. Louis Blues are coming off a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. They’ve lost five of the last six. That’s brutal. But, NHL team comprised of NHLers — and a Central Division rival. That means there’s a big four points on the line tonight.
All-time, the Colorado Avalanche have fared well against St. Louis, going 51-36-4-6 (ties). Last season, though, the Blues beat the Avs the first three times they met, while Colorado took the last two contests. Of course, the final contest is the one that sent the Avalanche instead of the Blues into the playoffs.
So, without further adieu, let’s look at some of the keys to the game.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: November 28, 7:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Alt 2, FS-MW (Blues’ feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)
Commentary from a Blues Fan
For this post, I “spoke” with a Blues fan, fellow FanSided editor Jason Martin. His co-editor recently wrote a post called “Blues Continue to Suck the Joy from Hockey,” and it starts with the following line early on:
"“The 2018-19 version of the Blues have basically taken that joy, wiped their backside with it and flushed it down the toilet.”"
Todd, please, your team is on pace for 28 wins and 64 points — you’re not even last in the Western Conference (LA Kings), much less the whole NHL (also Kings). The 48-Point Why Us Avalanche would have loved to eke out those numbers.
That said, the Avs were in a turmoil, a complete transition period. The Blues, as Todd points out in his post… are not. Indeed, they went out in the offseason and added what should have been key pieces for a playoff run, including former Av Ryan O’Reilly.
I asked Jason what he had about Friday’s game. He had the following to say:
"“Really the story of the Blues season has been injuries and players underachieving. Jaden Schwartz is out for a few more weeks. The defense have been in flux all season. It’s a team that’s stuck in limbo and they’re up against the cap.”"
Yep, that’s a hard road all right. This sounds a lot like the 2015-16 Colorado Avalanche when the Avs got in a playoff battle with the (hated) Minnesota Wild to see which team could freefall out of the playoffs. (The Avs “won”.)
Jason added more insight:
"“On the ice… It’s hard to see where it’s going wrong. The defense has been terrible and your line can really take advantage of a declining blue line. Plus, you never really know which Jake Allen you’re going to get.”"
Sounds like a team demoralized — a beast we know all to well in Avs Nation.
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The Colorado Avalanche won 20 games in 2016-17. That’s an abysmally low total, but that’s still 20 times they beat another team. Because, as bad and demoralized as they were, they were still comprised of talented, skilled NHLers.
And, like I said, the Blues are not a team in transition. This is technically a team build to win now that’s just now for whatever reason.
The Avalanche don’t want to be the team that provides the catalyst for them to get into some winning ways. Players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen and Jay Bouwmeester have historically played well against Colorado.
And there’s Ryan O’Reilly. While the team as a whole might be demoralized, old ROR is still trying to prove himself to his new team. He leads the Blues with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists). Those aren’t horrendous numbers for a team with St. Louis’ record.
And there’s always the curse of the former Avs — they tend to score on us.
The last thing any of us want to see is for the Avalanche to fail to take the Blues seriously. Sure, one blown game isn’t horrendous. However, it’s in front of the Pepsi Center crowd right before a tough four-game road trip.
And we don’t want Colorado to cool off. We want them to stay nice and hot.
After tonight’s game, the Avs and Blues will face each other three more times — once more at Pepsi Center and twice in St. Louis. Colorado will start December on the road beginning with a game in Detroit.