Blues Will Tune Up Formerly Red-Hot Avalanche on Thursday

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 6:25 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 6:25 PM UTC

The Colorado Avalanche look to avoid back-to-back losses following a 10-game winning streak as they visit St. Louis for the first time this season Thursday night.

Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis BluesFree NHL Pick: BluesBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3217087, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,999991,169,118,1275], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

It’s as busy of an NHL schedule as possible Thursday, the final day before the All-Star break, as 30 of the league’s 31 teams are in action – the only one not is the Los Angeles Kings. Here, it’s Colorado and St. Louis dropping the puck at 8 p.m. ET from the Scottrade Center.

The Avalanche and Blues are in the same Central Division and thus will play five times in the regular season, but they have just once so far. On Oct. 19, the Blues won in Denver 4-3. Jaden Schwartz and Vince Dunn scored goals 52 seconds apart in the second period, when St. Louis scored three times overall. The Avalanche appeared to have tied the game late in the third period, but Mikko Rantanen’s goal was disallowed after St. Louis challenged and replay showed Sven Andrighetto was offside.

Former Avs player Paul Stastny was the No. 1 star of the game with a goal and assist for the Blues. Carter Hutton had 38 saves as St. Louis was outshot 41-28. Colorado’s Alexander Kerfoot had two goals and an assist. Jonathan Bernier had 24 saves.

Last year, the Avalanche were 0-2 in St. Louis and have just one win in their past seven there.

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

Avs Have Turned Things Around

Colorado’s NHL-best 10-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday in the second of a back-to-back, 4-2 in Montreal. The Avs hadn’t allowed more than three goals in any game during the streak, which was the second-longest in franchise history and longest in the NHL this year.

Bernier stopped 36 shots against the Habs and entered the game two wins shy of Patrick Roy's Avalanche franchise record of 11 straight. Bernier is having a fine season at 14-8-1 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. He was brought in to be the backup to Semyon Varlamov, but Varlamov hasn’t played since Jan. 2 and might have lost his job. He could return after the break.

The Avalanche (27-17-3) were the NHL’s worst team last year but have turned it around largely on offense. They averaged a league-worst 2.01 goals in 2016-17 but are fourth this year at 3.30. Nathan MacKinnon is in the Hart Trophy discussion as he leads the team in goals (24), assists (36) and obviously points (60). He’s second in the NHL in points and only three shy of his career high set in his 2013-14 rookie season.

St. Louis (29-18-3) is hanging around the Central Division lead, currently held by Winnipeg. The Central is crazy-deep with every team having a positive goal differential – no other division can come close to saying that. The Blues won for the third time in four games Tuesday, 3-0 over visiting Ottawa to avoid their first three-game home losing streak of the season. It was the 1,800th win in Blues history, making them the eighth NHL franchise to reach that mark.

Hutton continued his fabulous year with a 10th career shutout after being pulled from his last start when he allowed three first-period goals to Arizona. Hutton is 11-4-1 with a 1.79 GAA (second in NHL) and .941 save percentage (also second) and appears to have taken Jake Allen’s job.

It’s possible the Blues get top-line winger Schwartz back for this one. He was cleared medically to return from an ankle injury Tuesday but didn’t play. Schwartz has been out since Dec. 9 but remains third on the team with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists).

Once a team’s long winning streak ends, it tends to go into a mini-funk. In addition, the Avalanche are just 9-10-2 on the road. St. Louis has won four of its past five vs. teams with a winning record and could get Schwartz back. Blues are the NHL pick.

comment here