Game Day Preview: St Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche -- 12/21/11

By ryanfrahm

Overview:  The last time the Blues (19-9-4) went into Colorado they may have been looking past that game to a rivalry game against Chicago the following night.  The Avs (16-17-1) were not so good at home at that point.  The Blues played like crap and the Avs took advantage and won in the shootout.  But now its a whole different story in Colorado.  The Avalanche have won 6 in a row on home ice, most against very good teams including the Red Wings, Capitals, Flyers, and Sharks.  But while on the road they have struggled against mediocre teams, even worse that they are in their division including Edmonton and Calgary.

In St Louis things have been on the up and up since back to back losses the weekend we played Colorado and Chicago.  Since those games the Blues have not lost in regulation going 5-0-1 with the only loss coming in a shootout, a game the Blues very easily could have won if not for the excellant play of Pekka Rinne.  After tonight’s game the Blues will head to the desert before coming home for X-mas and preparing for 2 sets of back to back games next week which put them against great opponents in Detroit twice, Dallas, and Nashville.

Previous Matchups:  Last season the Avalanche had the Blues number last season winning 3 of the 4 matchups.  One of those wins came in St Louis where Erik Johnson had been traded away from just 3 days prior.  He scored the go ahead goal in that one and Paul Stastny won it late for Colorado.

The only other matchup so far this season was the game almost 3 weeks ago.  That was a game that the Blues looked very sloppy and had trouble protecting their own zone.  Hopefully they will be prepared for a better Colorado team tonight.

Injury Report:  Blues will be without McDonald, Sobotka, Crombeen, and Huskins.

Avalanche will be without Mueller, Yip, Kobasew, Wilson.  David Van der Gulik’s wife is expecting a child tonight so he will also be a scratch tonight.  Also, David Jones and Kyle Quincey are questionable with groin injuries.

Who’s Hot:  For the Blues, I’m gonna go back to David Perron.  While the second line as a whole has still struggled, Perron has managed to put a point on the score sheet each of the last 5 contests and would expect to see him repeat that again tonight.  Even though he missed the first 25 games of this season he is still on pace for a 50+ point season with 7 points in his first 7 games.

In Colorado, Semyon Varlamov has some competition.  Former Ducks star J-S Gigure has been given the last 2 starts against the Caps and Flyers and has performed amazingly.  Just in those 2 games he stopped 56 shots while only allowing 3 goals.  On the season he is 6-4-0 with a GAA under 2 and a S% well into the 90’s.

Prediction:  I think the Blues arent going to take the Avs for granted this time.  The second line will finally produce as Stewie breaks loose and takes it to his old team.  The home win streak stops here for Colorado.  3-1 Blues as Elliott is expected to get back in goal after back to back starts by Halak.

Other Notes:  If i forget to mention it on Friday, have a Merry X-mas!


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