Friday night features the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on the road against the Edmonton Oilers. The last meeting between these two clubs was back on Dec. 18, when St. Louis prevailed 2-1 at home.
Here is a preview for Friday’s matchup between the Blues and Oilers.
The Blues split the back-to-back following the All-Star break, losing to the Canucks 3-1 but prevailing 5-4 in a shootout against the Flames. Heading into Jan. 29 action, St. Louis was 11th in goals per game with 3.2 but just 22nd in shots with 30.5.
The Blues’ power play has been excellent, scoring 25.2 percent of the time with the man-advantage, fourth in the league.
Defensively, the Blues are one of the best. The champs are seventh in both goals allowed and shots allowed, averaging 2.71 and 30.1, respectively. Their penalty kill is just 16th at 80.5 percent, but only four teams average less time in the penalty box than St. Louis’ 7.1.
The Oilers opened up the second half of the season Wednesday with a home game against the Flames, who had just got done against the Blues. Edmonton is averaging the third-fewest shots at 29.2 but still ranks a respectable 12th with 3.12 goals per game.
But the Oilers are more dangerous than anyone on the power play, leading the league with a 29.7 percent success rate.
Edmonton’s defense has been about average all season, sitting 17th in goals allowed with 3.1 and 16th in shots with 31.5. However, the Oilers’ penalty kill sits just inside the top 10, coming in ninth in the NHL with an 82.1 percent kill rate.
St. Louis is lauded for its depth as it gets production from several role players. One of them in Zach Sanford, who has come out firing in the second half. The bottom-six forward scored in each of St. Louis’ two games this week, adding on to a point streak that started right before the All-Star break. Sanford has just six goals and 11 assists, but we’ll see if he is able to continue his strong play Friday night.
Of course, the Blues also have All-Stars worth mentioning, such as David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo. Perron now has a four-game, six-point streak going on, upping his total to 22 goals and 30 assists. Meanwhile, the captain Pietrangelo had two assists against Calgary, giving him 29 on the season.
While St. Louis has depth, Edmonton counters with the two leading point-scorers in the NHL. Of course, the conversation begins with Connor McDavid. The captain and former MVP ended the first half on a six-game point streak, which ended with a two-goal performance versus the Coyotes. McDavid leads the league with 76 points, scoring 27 goals and dishing out 49 assists.
Amazingly, teammate Leon Draisaitl is neck-and-neck with McDavid for the Art Ross Trophy. Draisaitl ended the first half on an eight-game point streak in which he has had five goals and nine assists. In total, he has 27 goals and 48 assists, just one point shy of McDavid and the NHL lead.
It’s safe to assume the Blues will turn to their star goaltender Jordan Binnington. The second-year man is 23-8-5 with a 2.62 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
For the Oilers, we’ll likely see the regular starter Mikko Koskinen in net. The former KHL star is 14-9-2 with a 2.90 GAA and a .910 save percentage.