Match of the Week: St Louis Blues vs Edmonton Oilers
St Louis Blues host Edmonton Oilers on December 18 in a game that is the undoubted highlight of the upcoming National Hockey League (NHL) schedule.
The Blues are firmly in the mix towards the top of the Central Division, while the Oilers are embroiled in a close battle to secure first place in the Pacific Division.
After a good run of form the Blues went off the boil a little and they will be eager to bounce back heading into the festive season.
Troy Brouwer’s recent addition to the roster appears to have had a detrimental affect on the team and it will be interesting to see if he is still in the line-up against the Oilers.
The 34-year-old had looked a fading force with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers over the past few seasons, making his return to St Louis all-the-more surprising.
However, netminder Jake Allen has been a big positive for the Blues, rediscovering his best form to become a viable alternative to Jordan Binnington.
The Blues’ functional style under head coach, Craig Berube, doesn’t win them many plaudits outside of St Louis, but they will fancy their chances of picking up two points against the Oilers.
They have won their last three meetings with Edmonton, racking up a 16-5 aggregate scoreline during that run.
The Oilers also suffered a dip during December, sparking fears amongst their fans that they might miss out on the play-offs.
Slumps in previous years have seen the Oilers miss out on the post-season in 12 of the last 13 years, although the current team certainly has the ability to rediscover its best form.
Conor McDavid’s embarrassing penalty shot miss in a recent game against the Carolina Hurricanes perfectly highlighted their troubles, but the forward can be expected to bounce back sooner rather than later.
With both teams needing a positive result this game could be a cagey affair and home ice advantage for the Blues could ultimately be the deciding factor.
While the St Louis versus Edmonton game is well worth watching, there are plenty of other interesting match-ups around the NHL this week.
These include Montreal Canadiens meeting the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, while Colorado Avalanche face Chicago Blackhawks the following day.
The Blackhawks are also in action a day later as they host Winnipeg Jets, while Toronto Maple Leafs versus New York Rangers is the highlight of Friday’s schedule.