The Avalanche have quickly become one of the most threatening teams in the Western Conference, and they’re comfortably ahead of the St. Louis Blues in the standings.
It’s been a rough stretch of games for Colorado, though. They’ve lost three of their last four, including a 7-1 trouncing at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a surprising loss to the Edmonton Oilers thanks to an unreal performance from Mikko Koskinen.
They’ve got the talent — but as they head out on the ice in enemy territory, they’ll have to prove that they’ve got what it takes to bring home yet another win.
There may truly be no top line better than the one the Avalanche ice, no matter what team you root for. It’s hard to deny at this point; they’ve been the picture of consistency, and may very well single-handedly drag the Avalanche into a home seed for the postseason this spring.
The rest of the lineup doesn’t come even close, though, which remains their biggest problem. The next highest-scoring player is defender Tyson Barrie, and he’s a full 16 points behind the lowest of the top line’s points-getters. Carl Soderberg has been a pleasant surprise this year, bouncing back to hit the 10-goal mark already, but the team still lacks a complete top-six presence.
Luckily, the Blues have been treading water, so it may not matter.
Edmundson (upper-body) will be a game-time decision tonight against Colorado. #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) December 14, 2018
The Blues went out and actively made their roster better this summer, but don’t be fooled — what you see on paper is most certainly not what you get with this team.
The only two Western Conference clubs that have been struggling more than St. Louis are the Chicago Blackhawks — who have fired their Jack Adams-winning head coach and are openly holding a contract fire sale — and the Los Angeles Kings, who fired their own head coach and can’t keep a goalie healthy to save their lives. St. Louis has neither a winning record at home or on the road, and they’ve been the picture of frustration for their fans; something should be going right, but it still isn’t.
Now, they’re without Robby Fabbri for another injury, and apparently they may be shopping Vladimir Tarasenko. If that’s where they are right now, the Avalanche should expect them to be beatable — but don’t underestimate how hungry they are to get back on track.
Philipp Grubauer continues to be the lucky beneficiary of a strong offense in front of him, so he’ll come into Friday evening’s game with a 7-2-2 record through his 12 appearances thus far. He’s mentioned a frustration over not being good enough himself, though, and the fact remains that in his last five games, he’s either been lights-out or struggled considerably. He boasts just a .900 save percentage, which isn’t enough on its own — so he’ll have to hope that the scorepower in front of him shows up tonight.
Across the ice, the Blues are set to start Jake Allen, which could be a blessing in disguise. If Grubauer has been unhappy with his own performance this year, Allen has been downright unacceptable at times; he sits on an .899 save percentage this year and allowed three goals on six shots just two games ago. It’s been a rough year for him, and even a recent good stretch hasn’t been enough to make up for just how poorly he started.