St. Louis Blues: Important Western Canada Road Trip Begins in Vancouver

Michael WagenknechtContributor IFebruary 24, 2011

Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka works to enter the Vancouver zone.
Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka works to enter the Vancouver zone.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

After pulling off one of the biggest trades in team history, the St. Louis Blues blew an opportunity to move to within one point of a playoff spot by dropping two of three games at home.

The Blues got fans' hopes up with a 9-3 blowout of Anaheim on Saturday night and then proceeded to blow a two goal lead against Chicago on Monday and then fell apart in Erik Johnson’s emotional return to the team that just traded him.

Starting Thursday night, the Blues will start a three-game Western Canada road trip that can vault them right back into the playoff talk.

The Blues have some good things going for them that can help them accomplish that goal.

Andy McDonald returned 10 games ago and has 12 points in those games with six goals and six assists. His speed and vision, along with playing with bruising forwards Chris Stewart and David Backes, have opened up scoring lanes which the team has taken advantage of.

Brad Boyes has shifted his skill set from that of a goal scorer to an assist man. In his last 14 games, Boyes has 15 assists and has started to draw interest from playoff-bound teams as a possible second-line helper.

Patrik Berglund is on a seven-game point streak and, since TJ Oshie’s return, has points in 13 of the last 15 games. Oshie has multiple points in three of the last four games and points in eight of the last 11 games.

The Blues have fared well against Western Canadian teams over the last two seasons, going a combined 11-4-3 in that time span.

The Blues will play in Vancouver on Thursday night and hope to have goalie Jaroslav Halak back from his hand injury by that time.

Ty Conklin and Ben Bishop have given up 12 goals in the last three games and, with the importance of this trip, the Blues will need solid goaltending.

On Friday, the Blues will be in Edmonton, the city where they lost Andy McDonald to a concussion in December. St. Louis defeated the Oilers 5-3 in their last meeting when, ironically, Andy McDonald returned from his concussion.

The trip wraps up on Sunday, when the Blues are in Calgary as part of a home and home series with the Flames. At the moment, Calgary sits seven points ahead of the Blues in the West, but by the time this game rolls around, that lead could be down to one point.

The Blues need points in all three of these games, wishfully all six, in order to stay in playoff contention.

If they fail in this, the trade deadline on Monday could be a fire sale for this team as they shift focus to next year.


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