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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:03 am 
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This might not be a good time for the St. Louis Blues to play the Washington Capitals.

The Blues have lost four of their last five games at Scottrade Center and are struggling both on offense and in goal as they prepare to host the Capitals on Thursday night.

They might see an angry bunch of Washington players, too.

The Capitals saw their nine-game winning streak snapped on Monday night -- even though they scored seven goals, losing a wild 8-7 overtime game in Pittsburgh. The focus against the Blues is to hit the reset button and bounce back from their first loss since Dec. 29.

"It was just a good reality check, just to say, you know, you're not that good," Justin Williams told The Washington Post. "You've still got to work for things, and it's not going to come easy for you. It was a good challenge for us."

Despite Williams' statement, the Capitals have been good, all season, sitting in a tie with Columbus for the most points in the NHL with 64 and earning at least one point in 11 consecutive games. They have been especially hot offensively of late, having scored 47 goals in their last 10 games.

Coach Barry Trotz expects the Capitals will be able to quickly forget about the loss in Pittsburgh.

"We're going to talk about, let's bounce back in our game, you know?" Trotz told the Post. "I have a lot of trust in this group. We're a veteran group. Even when momentum was going the other way, it could have been easy to call timeout, slow things down, but I have a lot of faith in the group, that they are good enough to respond after a little bit of adversity."

The Blues have dealt with their own share of adversity, and will be trying to bounce back themselves from a 6-4 loss at home to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Backup goalie Carter Hutton, after winning two consecutive starts, got the nod again in place of a struggling Jake Allen and allowed five goals on 23 shots.

Allen has been pulled from three of his last five starts, including in his last game Jan. 10 in Los Angeles against the Kings, when he gave up three goals on 15 shots.

The Blues had a day off on Wednesday so there was no announcement on whether Allen or Hutton will start against the Capitals.

Regardless of the identity of the netminder, his first challenge will be trying to snap a streak which has seen the Blues allow the game's first goal in their last seven home games.

The Blues also need to find a way to get their leading scorer, Vladimir Tarasenko, back on track. Tarasenko has been held to just two assists in his last five games. He had just two shots on goal against the Senators.

"He's not getting any chances," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's something we've got to talk about. Not scoring is one thing, but he's not getting any grade-A chances, he's not getting any quality chances, there's no second chances. That's something we've got to talk about."
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Blues • After playing four games in six days, the Blues followed up Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Ottawa by taking the day off Wednesday. ... They will wrap up a brief two-game homestand against Washington at Scottrade Center, where they are just 2-5-1 in their last eight games. The team has allowed three-plus goals in each of those eight home games. ... The Blues have not yet announced whether backup Carter Hutton, who allowed five goals on 23 shots in his third consecutive start Tuesday, or Jake Allen will be in net against Washington.

Capitals • Washington is tied for the NHL lead with 64 points and has won nine of its last 10 games coming into Thursday’s visit. ... Capitals defensemen have posted at least one point in 38 of the team’s 44 games this season and combined for 99 total points (16 goals, 83 assists). ... Though they gave up eight goals to Pittsburgh in a 9-8 loss Tuesday, the Caps have shut out four of their last seven opponents and they lead the league in goals-against per game (2.05). ... Former Blues player Lars Eller had two goals in Monday’s defeat, giving him three goals and five points in his last four games.

Injuries • Blues — none. Capitals — D John Carlson (lower-body), doubtful.
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The Blues have struggled a bit recently vs. a Washington team that has gone on a tear. The Caps have points in 11 straight games - a stretch that included a nine-game win streak. And what's worse, Alex Ovechkin has logged hat tricks in back-to-back games against St. Louis. Overall, the Blues have dropped two consecutive decisions to the Caps, but, prior to that set, they had won three straight. Tonight is an opportunity for the Blues to bounce back and measure themselves against one of the top teams in the league in the process. St. Louis has lost two in-a-row at home but the good news is that they haven't experienced a three-game home losing streak since March 14-30, 2015.

What to Watch

Jake Allen could return to the net after Carter Hutton made three consecutive starts. Allen has a great opportunity to boost his confidence against a Capitals team that he's faced only one time in his career. That start resulted in a 32-save shutout, including four stops on Ovechkin. Two of the Blues' Swedes are among those to keep an eye on tonight. Patrik Berglund's 10 goals since Dec. 15 share the League lead while Alexander Steen has collected nine points (three goals, six assists) over his last eight games.

Milestones

David Perron - 5 shy of 100 goals as a Blue
Paul Stastny - 3 shy of 200 career goals / 8 shy of 100 PIM as a Blue
Kyle Brodziak - 1 shy of 400 career PIM
Kevin Shattenkirk - 10 shy of 300 career PIM
Jori Lehtera - 9 shy of 100 career points
Quick Hits

Kevin Shattenkirk will dress in his 410th game as a Blue tonight, passing Murray Baron for 11th on the franchise list among defensemen
Vladimir Tarasenko is riding a four-game goal streak vs. the Caps (five goals, one assist)
Ovechkin (134) and Tarasenko (112) rank first and second, respectively, in total goals (reg. + postseason) since 2014-15
Alexander Steen potted his 50th career power play goal on Tuesday vs. Ottawa
Ken Hitchcock is just two wins shy of tying Al Arbour (782) for third on the NHL's all-time regular season wins list


This day in history:
1996 NHL approves move of Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix
2002 Keith Tkachuk scored the OT goal on Doug Weight's 500th assist to defeat the Bruins 2-1
2004 Pavol Demitra scored his 500th point scoring both goals in a 2-1 win OT over the Panthers
2009 Backes scores game-winning goal with 1 second left to defeat the Bruins 5-4
2013 Tarasenko scores both goals in his debut leading the Blues to a 2-0 win over Detroit
2013 The 2012-2013 NHL season begins after a 119-day lockout

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Last edited by theohall on Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:13 am 
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I bet Allen is absolutely thrilled that he gets to show he's bounced back by starting against the Caps.

I really don't see this game ending well. Which, according to our MO, means we could win it. :facepalm:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:13 pm 
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gaijin wrote:
I bet Allen is absolutely thrilled that he gets to show he's bounced back by starting against the Caps.

I really don't see this game ending well. Which, according to our MO, means we could win it. :facepalm:


Any time I've done any daily fantasy picks this year in the NHL with the trends all going one way... that night... ALL THE OTHER WAY. Other than opening night where I had Auston Matthews all over my entries in his 4 goal night I've been screwed.

So I've taken an extended absence from trying to call games on whether trends continue or abruptly change course.

Maybe I should just automatically assume the opposite of whatever my line of thinking is for the NHL on a daily night haha.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:47 pm 
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WaukeeBlues wrote:
gaijin wrote:
I bet Allen is absolutely thrilled that he gets to show he's bounced back by starting against the Caps.

I really don't see this game ending well. Which, according to our MO, means we could win it. :facepalm:


Any time I've done any daily fantasy picks this year in the NHL with the trends all going one way... that night... ALL THE OTHER WAY. Other than opening night where I had Auston Matthews all over my entries in his 4 goal night I've been screwed.

So I've taken an extended absence from trying to call games on whether trends continue or abruptly change course.

Maybe I should just automatically assume the opposite of whatever my line of thinking is for the NHL on a daily night haha.


The Costanza method. I like it. :okman:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:49 pm 
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The challenge playing the Caps - they've lost the fewest man-games to injury of any team in the NHL. I believe it's a total of 10-man games on the season. This means their entire base team has played together essentially the entire season. They've actually improved considerably over their first 23 games, when they played around .500 hockey even with a 5-game winning streak. Since Dec 5th, they've only lost 5 games, 2 in shootouts and 1 in OT. I do not see this game ending well for the Blues with their inability to defend the low-high play when an opposing forward rolls back to the blueline and winds up getting a shot from the high slot or near the tops of the circles. This is on the Blues forwards, wingers in particular, who all season have been extremely inconsistent in defending the points and the high slot.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:09 pm 
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Mark me down as another with a bad feeling about this game, with a caveat though. On paper, Caps are better than us and we are struggling. Who knows what we'll get from Allen tonight or from a handful of forwards.

The caveat is that we seem to more or less alternate between good and bad games without much regard for who we are playing. The inconsistency over the past few months seems to be more about which Blues team shows up than the opponent (by my observation, not with much to back it up though). Lost to Carolina at home, beat SJ/ANA on the road. So, if the good Blues team shows up, I think 2 points are possible. It's hard to be confident that the good team will show up though.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:33 pm 
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One other thing to say - the Capitals have way better balance in 5v5 ice time for their forward lines than do the Blues. Scott Gomez mentioned this problem with the Blues on NHL Tonight one night about Hitchcock over-playing his top forwards which leads to fatigue, particularly when their is travel and games packed closer together like they are this season. This gets amplified when the Blues are losing or in a 1-goal game. The San Jose game had outstanding balance among the forward lines. LA, ANA, and OTT - not so much.

The time on ice charts for Washintgon and St Louis pretty much confirm this.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:16 pm 
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The Blues don't have a prayer. Washington is on fire, heck the entire Metropolitan Division seems to have displaced the Central as the best division in hockey. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Caps light the lamp a good 7 or 8 times.

We're seeing a major power shift from west to east and Hitch (surprise, surprise) isn't keeping up.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:32 pm 
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glen a richter wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Caps light the lamp a good 7 or 8 times.

We're seeing a major power shift from west to east and Hitch (surprise, surprise) isn't keeping up.


Just saw my phone update that it was currently 7-2 Caps. :grin: :oops:


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:21 am 
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No pics today, waiting for that crate of Lipton to reach the house. My God, what a mess...

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