Apologies for the late post folks, but the old Interwebs were acting up on me today. But with some prime time action at MSG tonight, I wanted to be sure and post three key factors to watch when the smoking St. Louis Blues battle the New York Rangers tonight.
The Blues have only lost once in regulation this season. Not a bad mark 11 games into the season, eh? Part of the reason for that success has been the Blues’ dominant performance at even strength. St. Louis currently owns a 1.89 GF/GA when skating five aside, meaning they're outscoring their opposition almost 2-to-1. That's the best mark in the NHL. New goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been a big part of producing that margin, posting a .944 SV% to start the season, the best of any goalie with more than eight starts.
The Rangers are no slouches at even strength either (1.20 GF/GA) but they could definitely use some tightening up in another key area …
The Blueshirts have been burned by penalties throughout the season, giving up an average of one power-play goal per game. When you consider that the Rangers have lost two games by either one goal or in OT, and two more where empty-netters made the final score a two-goal margin, it’s pretty safe to say the PK is keeping New York from reaching the upper levels of the Eastern Conference so far.
Biron has been up and down in his two starts thus far, and he’ll get his third nod of the season Saturday night. He should be busy, as the Blues generate the second-most shots per game in the league (34.1). Defenseman Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo love to boom shots from the point as well, so Marc Staal and Co. will need to keep Biron’s sightlines clear of screeners.