The Avalanche were able to hold off a late push from the Sharks to win 4-3 on Sunday.
San Jose received a late opportunity after Evander Kane was struck by a high stick, and while the Sharks narrowed Colorado’s lead, the Avs ultimately won. With that, the Avalanche remain within striking distance behind the Blues (90 to St. Louis’ 92 points) while holding a game in hand.
Those who observe the Avalanche being powered by the usual suspects may believe that the team hasn’t come that far in 2019-20. On the contrary, they’ve shown quite well in rolling with various punches, and could be quite impressive if Rantanen can return close to full speed.
But, yes, make no mistake about it: MacKinnon is still the high-horsepower engine that still runs this team, and few moments in hockey are as exciting as when he’s in the driver’s seat.
For the first time in franchise history, the Blues managed a sweep of their season series against the Blackhawks.
In Sunday’s case, the Blues beat the Blackhawks 2-0 on Sunday to complete that sweep. Jake Allen made all 29 saves, earning his second shutout of 2019-20 and the 21st of his career. Allen already came into Sunday with a quietly strong season, considering a .925 save percentage that improved that much more.
Winning this game improves the Blues’ chances of holding off the Avalanche for the Central Division crown. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks’ hopes look dimmer and dimmer.
Blues – Blackhawks broadcast features first all-female crew
Kate Scott and A.J. Mleczko called the action on Sunday, while Kendall Coyne-Schofield provided analysis between the benches “Inside the Glass.” Meanwhile, producer Rene Hatlelid and director Lisa Seltzer handled game production.
“I’m hoping that they take away that they can do this. That calling a game, analyzing a game, directing a game, producing a game, shooting a game, I’m hoping that they turn off the television on Sunday night thinking, ‘Wow, that was never something I thought I could do before, but I think I can do that.’ That’s one of the reasons, in my opinion, that we are still seeing such slow growth when it comes to women calling and analyzing sports because it starts when you’re a kid,” Scott said. “You go to most of the college radio and television stations around the country and they’re still predominantly male because you’ve got to see somebody doing what you want to do when you’re a kid and have that seed planted early on to be able to go and then learn the skills early enough in life to then be prepared to call moments and games like Sunday.”
From here, it looked (and sounded) like a great success, and hopefully represents merely another step toward greater progress.
The Blues saw their eight-game winning streak end in an unlikely place: New Jersey. St. Louis saw its run close out after the Devils beat them 4-2 on Friday.
Takeaways after Blues see their eight-game winning streak end vs. Devils
Sometimes the unlikely happens. Sometimes that includes unlikely successes from players with unlikely names. Dakota Mermis, an undrafted 26-year-old defenseman, scored his first NHL goal in New Jersey’s upset win. In doing so, he proved that he doesn’t just exist in the rough draft in a Hollywood script. (I’m thinking “rushed sequel to Point Break.”)
Jesper Bratt made a pretty sound argument that he likely deserves more ice time.
I mean, unless … you know, the Devils actually want to lose more often.
On that note, they might want to ponder some contrived ways to keep Cory Schneider on the bench and in a baseball cap more often.
Schneider began the 2019-20 season on the trajectory that’s become all-too-uncomfortably-familiar lately: as someone who might not be an NHL goalie, let alone a $6M one. He was 0-6-1 with a hideous .852 save percentage through Jan. 18.
FINAL: #njdevils 4, #stlblues 2 …. Blues’ eight-game winning streak comes to an end against Devils (26th in league standings) … Binnington’s personal 6-game streak snapped … Parayko rare minus-3 … goals from Dunn (9) and Schwartz (22).
Seeing the end of an eight-game winning streak leaves the Blues with precious little room to breathe against the Avalanche for the top spot in the Central. St. Louis only holds a two-point edge (90 to 88), while Colorao has one game in hand after also losing on Friday (67 games played vs. 68 for the Blues).
Circling back to that earlier draft lottery point, the Devils are also 6-2-2 over their last 10 games.
Inevitable(?) Taylor Hall joke: does Hall’s draft lottery luck count when he’s no longer playing for a team, but the pick involved was related to a Hall trade? Asking for a rather Coyote-like friend.
Either way, the Devils’ relative competence will inspire another round of existential debates about tanking.
Should the Devils be happy to grab some wins while closing out a disappointing season? Is this round of too little too late also going to be self-destructive?
Maybe Schneider isn’t the goalie you want to drive that tank. Consider that, in 2018-19, he was terrible before the All-Star break (strangely, the same .852 save percentage in the same number of games  as this latest pre-All-Star run) and then caught fire after (.921 save percentage during his last 17 games of 2018-19).
It’s too small of a sample size to say anything for sure, but maybe the Devils and/or Schneider linger as upset threats? They certainly did so on Friday, as the Blues saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end.
The Central Division couldn’t provide a crowd-pleasing victory, but that second game should leave hockey fans with fun memories. It also sets the stage for a fascinating All-Star Game final featuring a Battle of the Tkachuks. Ultimately, the Pacific advanced by dominating the Central 10-5.
Memorable All-Star moments
Leon Draisaitl said he’d just try to get off the ice if he shared surface with nemesis Matthew Tkachuk as a teammate. Draisaitl had to make himself scarce after Tkachuk set him up with a nice feed for a goal, then:
Rivalries don’t just add spice to the All-Star Game for players. Fans sometimes enjoy awkward-funny moments, too. It doesn’t get much better than St. Louis fans cheering for Patrick Kane helping the Central, then realizing it was Kane and resuming their boos:
That said, David Rittich is in the running. He played a big role in the game being so lopsided, as Rittich stopped nine out of 10 shots. Much has been made about Rittich enjoying himself this weekend, and he performed well too.
Matthew Tkachuk had a good game (2G, 2A) alongside frenemy Draisaitl (3G, 1A). Unlike in the earlier game, the Pacific got to such a high goal total without empty-netters.