The St Louis Blues were once regarded as favourites for the Stanley Cup and they are still well in the hunt for the Central Division crown. Sitting behind the Nashville Predators on points difference alone, St Louis will be expecting to secure two wins against their Canadian opponents this weekend to increase the pressure on their rivals.
If nothing else, one thing is for sure ahead of the weekend: this is not going to be east for Winnipeg by any means. St Louis have conceded just 84 goals so far this year – one of the best defensive records in the National Hockey League. Double that up with an offensive unit has already scored over 100 points and the Jets could be in trouble.
Winnipeg are no slouches though and the Canadian side sit just three points behind St Louis in the race for top spot. The Jets will be quietly confident of clawing back some of the deficit this weekend and plenty of punters will fancy Paul Maurice’s men to do the business. It may be a very tasty, very aggressive contest – ideal for any neutrals out there.
Winnipeg Must Remember… The Blues Are Not Invincible
As impressive as St Louis have been for the most part of the campaign, they are not the best franchise in the National Hockey League – Winnipeg should not feel inferior. The Blues have won just five of their last 10 league games and they were second best when losing 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks earlier this week. In the outright Stanley Cup markets, Winnipeg are a mid-range option at 15/1 with Unibet.
DANGER MAN: Brayden Schenn. Vladimir Tarasenko has been St Louis’ main man in recent years and it has been nice to see Brayden Schenn step up this year. With a grand total of 37 points, Schenn has been averaging over one point per game – and that could help the Blues in their pursuit of Stanley Cup glory.
He has 16 goals and 21 assists already this season but Scheen won’t be satisfied just yet. The Blues star will be looking to continue his form throughout the rest of the year and Winnipeg will have their hands full this weekend.
Jets Have Potential But Must Stay Focused
Losing to the Blues at this stage of the campaign won’t hinder Winnipeg too much but a win will help to send a timely reminder to both St Louis and Nashville that the Jets are a serious contender in the division. Only two teams have scored more goals than Winnipeg this year and that is testament to their aggressive, attacking style of play.
DANGER MAN: Blake Wheeler. With 38 points, Wheeler has arguably been the top player on the roster this year. He has scored just eight goals this season but 30 assists stand him in good stead to rank as one of the top points scorers in the league this campaign.
He has racked up two assists as well as a goal in his last five Jets appearances and fans will be expecting Wheeler to make a positive impact here. You certainly wouldn’t back against him being heavily involved throughout.
An intriguing double header awaits. In the first fixture, home advantage may prove prudent for St Louis – it is hard to envision Tarasenko and co slipping up. The second fixture may see an improvement from Winnipeg though and a split weekend could be on the cards. Both are capable of pulling off two victories and that is what makes this weekend so interesting; two defeats for either side could be catastrophic for momentum and confidence.
BLUES 5-3 JETS