Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues - 12/23/14 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction
St. Louis Blues (21-9-3) at Colorado Avalanche (12-13-8)
NHL Hockey: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Pepsi Center)
The Line: Colorado Avalanche +130 / St. Louis Blues -150 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
The St. Louis Blues finish up their road trip when they travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche on Tuesday night. Things haven’t gone the way the Blues would have liked on this trip, losing games in Los Angeles and San Jose. Martin Brodeur was lit up by the Kings on Thursday night and on Saturday the Blues were more competitive but just couldn’t generate enough offense. In fact, the Blues generated just 20 total shots on the night and three over the final 20 minutes. Patrik Berglund and Steve Ott scored less than three minutes apart in the second period to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead but the passive play in the third period ultimately cost them. St. Louis was content to sit back and defend and for the most part they did a pretty good job of it. The Blues surrendered just nine shots in the third period and defended well, limiting opportunities for the Sharks until the final minute. With just 21 seconds left in regulation the Sharks got the equalizer and after a tripping penalty on Alexander Steen in overtime they finished the Blues off with a power play goal. The Blues failed to generate a power play opportunity and really they failed to generate much of anything. Offense has been a continuing problem for the Blues over the years but that hasn’t quite been the case for St. Louis this season. Sitting sixth in the league in goals per game at 2.94, the Blues are also still solid defensively. They’ve allowed just 79 goals total on the season, good for eighth overall. It’s clear the Blues are going to be in contention this season but they still have a lot of question marks up and down the lineup. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not Ken Hitchcock can get them over the hump when it comes to the post season. Tuesday night they’ll look to head into the Christmas break with a win over an Avalanche club that has struggled immensely this season.
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Colorado just hasn’t been able to get out of their own way this season but the good news is they’ve put together two solid victories in a row. After a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night the Avalanche came back on Sunday and got by the Detroit Red Wings. Calvin Pickard got both starts over the weekend and ended up allowing just two goals on 64 shots. The 22 year-old is now 6-5-2 on the season for a club that is just 12-13-8 on the season. It looked like Pickard might be the hard luck loser after the Red Wings drew first blood five minutes into the third period, but Erik Johnson’s eighth goal of the season tied things up late in the game. After a scoreless overtime session the two clubs went to a shootout where Pickard was strong. Both teams scored twice in their first three shots but the Colorado netminder stopped the last six shots he faced to give the Avalanche the 2-1 win in the ninth round of the shootout. If Pickard can find a way to keep this play up it will be a huge boost for a Colorado club that can’t keep the puck out of their own net this season. The Avalanche are 25th in the league in goals against per game at 3.00 on the year. Factor in that they’ve dropped all the way to 22nd in the league in goals per game and it’s easy to understand why they’re struggling. A young goaltender can really energize a club and right now the Avalanche need that. Taking down a club like the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday could go a long way toward giving Pickard the confidence he needs and give the Avalanche a boost coming out of the Christmas break.
This one is going to be tough for the Avalanche but they have a chance to take advantage of a tired Blues team that is looking to get back home. Still, it’s hard to bet against the Blues snapping their streak, especially against a club that has had the types of troubles the Avalanche have this season.