January 22 – Day 104 – Rocky Mountain High

It was another tight game between last season’s Conference Champions, but it was Tampa Bay who won 2-1 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Chicago scored the first goal of the game before even a full minute had expired.  Artem Anisimov gave the Blackhawks their first and only goal of the game after only 43 seconds, assisted by Patrick Kane (his 42nd helper of the season).  6:31 later, Tampa Bay leveled the score with a goal from Anton Stralman, assisted by First Star of the Game Victor Hedman and Valtteri Filppula (his 17th helper of the season).  The one-all score held into the intermission.

The Bolts scored the final goal with 23:21 remaining in the game when Nikita Kucherov scored a power play tally, assisted by Hedman (his 24th helper of the season) and Alex Killorn.

Ben Bishop improves his record to 19-13-3 after saving 17 of 18 (94.4%), while Third Star Corey Crawford’s fell to 27-11-2 after saving 31 of 33 (93.9%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 45-20-9, favoring the home squads by 35 points over the roadies.

It’s a busy enough Friday schedule, as 12 teams are in action this evening.  The pucks drop at 7 p.m. eastern for three games (Detroit at Buffalo [BELL TV], Anaheim at Washington [NHLN] and the New York Rangers at Carolina), followed half an hour later by two more (the New York Islanders at Ottawa [RDS] and Chicago at Florida).  This evening’s nightcap gets an earlier start than usual, as St. Louis at Colorado begins at 9 p.m. eastern.

Three of tonight’s games are between division rivals (Detroit at Buffalo, New York at Carolina and St. Louis at Colorado), and two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Chicago at Florida and St. Louis at Colorado).  Since one of those games is in both sets, we’ll focus on the game happening in Denver.

Unknown-1Colorado Avalanche Logo

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s game marks St. Louis‘ ninth appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 5-3-0 record.  Their most recent showing in the series was a 5-2 victory over the Penguins on Monday.  Colorado has been featured three times before tonight’s game, and own a 2-1-0 record in such games.  Their most recent game in the series was a 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Wednesday.

The 28-15-7 St. Louis Blues currently occupy third place in both the Central Division and the Western Conference.  They play a top-10 offense (as measured by goals scored), which they’ve needed to cover for a below-average defense (again, measured by goals allowed).  You can read a more detailed explanation of their game on Monday’s post.

The Blues are currently riding a three-game win streak, with their most recent being a 2-1 victory in Detroit on Wednesday.  A Notes win this evening does not improve their seeding in the division, but it does pull them into a tie with Dallas on points, which the Stars  win the tiebreaker based on games played.

The 24-21-3 Colorado Avalanche currently sit in fifth place in the Central Division and sixth in the Western Conference, good enough for the second wild card spot.  Similar to the Blues, the Avalanche play an incredible offense backed by a poorer defense, but Colorado is more extreme, playing a better offense than St. Louis, but allowing far more goals.  A more in-depth explanation of their game can be found in Wednesday’s post.

Colorado is currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent being the 2-1 victory over Buffalo two days ago.  An Avalanche victory this evening does not do as much to improve their situation as much as it solidifies their qualifying for the playoffs.  Since Nashville does not play this evening, Colorado could expand their lead in the “last-team-out” race to three points, although the Predators will have two games in hand.

These squads have already met twice this season, with Colorado owning the series 2-0-0.  Their most recent meeting was by far the more competitive, as the Avs needed an overtime goal from Gabriel Landeskog on January 6 on home ice.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Colorado‘s Matt Duchene (22 goals [tied for sixth-most in the league]) & St. Louis‘ Jake Allen (five shutouts [second-most in the league] and 18 wins [tenth-most in the league] and Vladimir Tarasenko (25 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league] and 46 points [tied for sixth-most in the league]).

As a Blues fan, I am worried for tonight’s game.  Colorado has been playing well of late and has the home-ice advantage.  I expect this to be a tight game, but one the Avs win.

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