Nov 25, 2013, 8:47 AM EDT
NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the Minnesota Wild at the Scottrade Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
In some ways, the Blues and Wild are similar stories. Both franchises are on the upswing and hungry for more after disappointing first round exits in 2013.
Neither team is one of the most popular picks to win the Stanley Cup, but both have a lot of promise. They have young forwards stepping up like Nino Niederreiter in Minnesota or Jaden Schwartz in St. Louis along with elite defensemen capable of leading a playoff team like the Wild’s Ryan Suter and Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo.
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Monday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the link.
Most importantly though, lately they have been able to do no wrong. Of the combined 23 games these two squads have participated in this month, they have only lost three in regulation. It’s no wonder that St. Louis and Minnesota have two of the best records in the league at 16-3-3 and 15-5-4 respectively.
Of course, there are plenty of differences between these two squads too.
In addition to playing a solid defensive game, the Blues have managed to crush their competition by overwhelming them offensively. That’s due in no small part to Alexander Steen‘s remarkable start with 17 goals and 27 points in 22 games, but even as he starts shows signs of slowing down, St. Louis is far from vulnerable.
The Blues have six players that have recorded at least 16 points this season and 11 with a minimum of 10 points. Forwards David Backes and T.J. Oshie are enjoying the best campaign of their careers and they’re still hot going into tonight’s contest.
They’ll run up against one of the best defenses in the league though. Minnesota has limited its competition to an NHL-best 25.3 shots per game. That’s helped them maintain a team 2.17 GAA, although that statistic comes with an asterisk tonight.
Goaltender Josh Harding has been a big part of the Minnesota Wild’s success, but he suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday. Harding has since gotten good news from an MRI, but the best case is that he serves as the backup tonight, according to NHL.com.
That puts the Wild’s fate in the hands of Niklas Backstrom, who was great in his recent contest against Winnipeg, but has struggled overall this season.
Combine that with the Blues’ home ice advantage and the fact that they’ve won their last five games against Minnesota and it seems fair to give them the edge. But given how good these teams have been, anything is possible.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
It blows the Kings goaltender’s mind that he’s not talked about more, so let’s discuss him.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:20 PM EDT
He used to have that role with the Calgary Flames.
Aug 4, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
They signed him to a one-year deal while fellow breakout rookie Mark Stone got a three-year contract.
Aug 4, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Jim Benning follows through after calling him a “foundation piece.”
Aug 4, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Assuming of course Bill Foley succeeds in his attempt to bring the NHL to Sin City.
Aug 4, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT
Where should we set the bar post-Babcock?
Aug 4, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
That didn’t work out for them.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Yes, it’s the inevitable, perennial Red Wings question.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT
MLBAM will handle NHL.com, Center Ice, Game Center Live and the NHL Network in 2016.
Aug 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Can Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get it done, collectively?
Aug 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Adding a wealth of experience.
Aug 4, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
The skilled Swede may or may not be ready to start the season.
Aug 4, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
He’s already made a positive impression on Jeff Blashill.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
Mike Babcock’s act is a tough one to follow.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The book has closed on the Mike Babcock era.
Aug 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002
Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?
Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.
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