Game of the Night
Detroit Red Wings (47-27-5) vs. St. Louis Blues (48-21-10)
DET leads series 3-2.
***Note — The home team has won every game between these clubs so far this season. This should come as no surprise, since St. Louis and Detroit are two of the best teams in the league at defending their home ice — the Blues are 30-5-4, while the Red Wings are 31-6-2.
***Note — After St. Louis won the first two games in the division rivalry in late 2011, the Red Wings fired back with three consecutive wins by a combined score of 9-3. The most recent matchup was on January 23rd, which resulted in a 3-1 Detroit victory.
What’s At Stake?
Detroit — The Red Wings have slipped to 5th in the Western Conference with just three games left in the season, but they have played one less than both the 4th (Nashville) and 6th (Chicago) place teams in the standings. So, with a win tonight, Detroit would leap the Predators and distance themselves from the lurking Blackhawks. This is of obvious significance because the 4th spot guarantees home ice advantage, which is of grave importance to the Wings.
St. Louis — While the Blues may already be Central Division champions, there is work to be done if they hope to secure the top spot in the Western Conference. The Vancouver Canucks have gone on an impressive seven-game winning streak, which has catapulted them to three points above St. Louis for that top spot — and home ice for multiple rounds in the postseason. Therefore, the Blues will aim to win so that they can keep pace in a race that could come down to the wire.
Player To Watch
Brian Elliott, Netminder, St. Louis Blues
Listen, I know that both of these teams are excellent between the pipes, but the reason that I call on Elliott (23-9-3, 1.48 GAA) as the player to watch is because he is given the tougher task of slowing down the Red Wings. Detroit is ranked 6th in offensive efficiency and has three outstanding weapons in Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Flippula and Pavel Datsyuk that have all recorded more than 60 points this year.
Elliott began his season with two very impressive showings against the Red Wings, but has more recently been the losing goaltender in two of the three St. Louis defeats at Joe Louis Arena. I fully expect to see a bounce back performance from one of the NHL’s finest goalies.
Well, something about the Red Wings seven losses in their last 10 games, and losing record on the road (16-21-3) tell me that I shouldn’t like their chances tonight. Admittedly, I believe it will be a close contest that could easily go either way, but the Blues are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Blue Jackets, which they won’t let simmer in their minds much longer.
Red Wings 2, Blues 3