Yes, you read that correctly, the St. Louis Blues are currently the hottest team in the NHL as we speak. The Blues have now won nine games in a row following their 3-0 victory Saturday afternoon against Colorado. Down and out at one point in the season, the Blues are now sitting in the third spot in the Central Division with 65 points. As for the Wild, they need wins more than any team in the NHL, and after Friday night’s collapse there’s no telling who could be between the pipes for the Wild come Sunday afternoon.
Season Series So Far
The first two match-ups this season have gone to the Wild, but its been over two months since these teams have played and they are in completely different spots than they were back then. St. Louis and Minnesota met twice in a span of eight days back in November, with the Wild coming out victorious 5-1, and 3-2. That was when the Blues were struggling to find anything. Now, they are looking for their 10th straight victory, that would tie a franchise record.
What They’ve Done
The Blues are on a stretch currently since January 3rd that is truly remarkable. They sat dead last in the NHL with 34 points, and since then have gone 15-4-1 while out scoring their opponents 68-39. One reason, is the play of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, who is likely to get the start Sunday afternoon with Jake Allen playing Saturday. Binnington, in his 15 games he has appeared in has gone 11-1-1 with a 1.69 GAA, and .931 save percentage. Another reason for their hot stretch, is due to alternate captain Vladimir Tarasenko who has 14 goals in his last 18 games, and his career-high 11 game point streak. Not only is Tarasenko hot, but Brayden Schenn also has 12 assists in his last 12 games, but only 1 goal during that stretch. Although, the goals haven’t come for Schenn, he is still making things happen for the Blues making for a difficult task come Sunday for the Wild. Oh, and let’s not forget the Blues have won seven straight on the road, and are 13-3-1 on the road in the past 17 games.
Shutting Down the Top Line
As mentioned with the streak of what Tarasenko has done, it has propelled the top line for the Blues to have 37 points in the last 9 games for the Blues. Obviously, the main goal for the Wild will be trying to shut down that top line of Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, and Tarasenko. It will not be an easy task because in those last 9 games they have played the likes of Nashville twice, and Tampa just to name a few.
That’s the mentality for the Wild coming into Sunday afternoon. Where to go after what seemed to be a easy victory Friday night against New Jersey which turned into a 5-4 defeat in overtime. Yes, the Wild were able to manage a point, but a game where the Wild were up 4-1 at one point is disappointing to say the least. The biggest question going into Sunday is who will be starting for the Wild? Will Bruce Boudreau go to Devan Dubnyk to try and get his game back to usual or go to Alex Stalock who hasn’t played since February 2nd. The choice will obviously be in the hands of Boudreau, but it’s a tough decision since Boudreau guaranteed the Wild will make the playoffs during the week.