Win the Games You Should Win
Every fan wants their team to go out and win each and every game. Unless you’re following the NFL, there’s no chance of that even happening. However, there are games you are just supposed to win and on paper, the Blues matchup against Tampa Bay tonight is one of these games. Coming off a 3-0 loss in Chicago, the top side in the Central, the Blues need to flex some muscle and crush a struggling Tampa Bay side that has lost six straight. The first step to success is taking care of business against other struggling sides and then using that momentum and confidence to take down tougher squads. Of course, the Blues have been unpredictable this season, so who can say with any certainty what will happen tonight. If the Blues can’t best a scrappy Lightning side it will just add another dimension to this mystery side that can beat San Jose and Los Angeles but fail to string together a series of wins.
By no means is a game against Tampa Bay a “gimme” but it is a matchup between the 14th team in the East against a team that has really failed to put together a solid effort lately. The Blues are obviously not much better off sitting in 14th on the Western side of things, but have thankfully not gone 1-8 in the month of December. The Blues are 4-3 this month.
The Lightning do have some potent weapons on offense through the likes of Martin St. Louis, the phenomenal Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Vincent Lecavalier. Fans will get to see Lecavalier in action, a man who has been linked to the Blues in all sorts of trade rumors of late, none of which can hold any water. Outside of these four, the offense really drops off. If the Blues can contain and trap these four skaters, a win should follow suit.
The main struggle in Tampa Bay has been in net, with Mike Smith struggling out of the gate allowing Antero Niittymaki to see more time. Smith has started 18 games while Niittymaki has started 16, but neither have been overly impressive this season with a combined 2.80 GAA and a modest save percentage of .908. Sounds like a great time for the Blues to finally put up a crooked number on the scoreboard at home.
The level of parity in the NHL, especially in the West, appears to be at a new high, with any team being able to win on any given night. With this high level of competition, the Blues must capitalize against other struggling and less talented teams.