ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 10: Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames and Jamie Langenbrunner #15 of the St. Louis Blues battle for control of the puck at the Scottrade Center on October 10, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the flames 5-2. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
If I asked you where you thought St. Louis ranked, you probably wouldn't say 4th overall.
The last time these two teams played, the Blues ranked 8th in the conference with 24 points. That was 4 months ago and Ken Hitchcock had been on the job for about two weeks. Since then, it's been a meteoric rise for the Blues. There are many reasons for this, but one probably could've predcited such a thing happening even going back to last year.
St. Louis has been a very dominant possession team for the better part of 4 years now, but the goaltending just hasn't been there and that's been their downfall. This year, however, Brian Elliott has been producing some numbers that can only be described as unsustainable; but some how he's managed to sustain them. Elliott currently sports a 1.65 GAA (.04 better then Miikka Kiprusoff's modern-day record), a .937 SV% and a .945 EVSV%. Basically, he's been really, really good this season.
That's not the only reason the Blues have accomplished what they have so far this year-Alex Steen has the 2nd best Corsi Rel in the league this year (+20.6) without having buttery soft circumstances, their top line of Backes-Oshie-Perron have the three toughest comp and all have negative zone starts yet combined they operate with a 6.8 Corsi Rel. That 1013 PDO can't hurt too much and a EVShots% of 54.5 demonstrates a quality team.
It may be difficult for the Flames to derail this train in the last game of the season between these two teams tonight (and in doing so even the season series), but if they really want to be a playoff team, they're going to have to start winning some games. Although the team has gotten points from 9 of their last 10 games, the pace the Flames had to start the season isn't going to allow them to get into the playoffs with a .500 points percentage. I said it last last game-right now this looks like a team not wanting to lose instead of a team wanting to win. I don't think that's due to any of that "intangible" crap, but more a systematic failure of implementing a play style that allows this team to be successful. There's a huge difference between those two and if Jay Feaster, Brent Sutter et al want to see this team in the top 8, they better get this team to start translating that locker room bullshit into performances on the ice where they're not getting outshot by 20 a game.
Players To Watch
Jarome Iginla-He's sucked for a while now. TIME TO STOP BEING SHIT, JAROME!
Alex Pietrangelo-KId's pretty good at the stick-puck.
This team needs to stop pretending. Either be shit and fall out of the playoff race or be good and make the playoffs. Pretty simple.