Game to Watch
St. Louis Blues (29-12-6) at Detroit Red Wings (32-15-1)
C’mon folks, was there any other option for tonight?
The Red Wings are in hot pursuit of the league record for consecutive home victories and have no plans of slowing down.
On Saturday, Detroit looked rough against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. They trailed twice in the first two periods and then faced a more than 30 minute scoring drought. But, nonetheless, Veltteri Flippula’s shootout snipe paced the Wings to a 3-2 shootout win and its 16th straight win at Joe Louis Arena.
During the streak, Detroit’s offense has been lethal. They have recorded at least three goals in each of the victories and put up five or more on eight different occasions. Leading the NHL’s 5th ranked offense has been veteran Pavel Datsyuk, who has reached nearly 40 assists and is amongst the league-leaders with 51 points.
But, St. Louis poses an intriguing contrast to the Red Wings deadly attack.
The Blues own the NHL’s top-ranked defense, which has allowed only four goals during a current four-game winning streak. Most recently, they used an unusual output of four goals in the final two periods to fend off the Buffalo Sabres, 4-2.
Surprisingly, St. Louis isn’t dependent upon one excellent netminder; instead, they have prospered from the play of both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. Admittedly, Elliott has been the most dominant. He is the league-leader in goals allowed per game at 1.68, and is the second best goalie in save percentage at 93.7.
As for tonight, Halak — 14-7-5, 2.00 GAA — will start against Detroit for the first time this season even though it is the fifth matchup of the two clubs. It will be no easy task obviously; but, I actually like the Blues chances. The Wings have flirted with danger in six consecutive contests, and if they do that again, St. Louis may not be fortunate enough to let them hang around.
Either way, I expect a battle.
The previous four matchups of these division rivals were very close. Each team has won twice, with both wins coming in their home arena. The most recent contest between the two was played on December 31st — a 3-0 win for Detroit. However, I believe this streak will be broken tonight with a St. Louis victory in the hostel environment.
Prediction: Blues 3, Red Wings 2