St. Louis Blues @ Detroit Red Wings Free NHL Pick 1/23/12
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The Blues enter Monday’s clash just a point back of the Red Wings for the top spot in the Central Division and the Western Conference as a whole. This has proven to be a fierce battle with these two teams, along with the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. All four are likely to be neck and neck the rest of the season, but for the time being, the Blues seem to have the best net minder combination. Brian Elliott has been an absolute stud this season after being a castaway from the lowly Ottawa Senators last year. Now all of a sudden, Elliott’s career has been resurrected in the Gateway to the West, while the Senators are one of the four teams in the Eastern Conference with at least 60 points going into this week. Jaroslav Halak is having a great season as well, and these two have combined to allow just 96 total goals this season. That makes St. Louis the only team in the Western Conference to surrender fewer than 100 goals for the campaign, and it is one of just three teams in the league that can boast that. Offensively, the team struggles at times, as it has 34 fewer goals than Detroit and 40 fewer than Chicago, but there is enough there with David Backes and a nice mix of youth and experience leading the way.
Detroit has been absolutely remarkable this year at home. The team 19-2-1 and has won 16 in a row here at Joe Louis Arena coming into this one. In overtime games this season, the Red Wings have just one loss on the whole year, and they are undefeated in shootouts. That really could come into play in this one, as the Blues already have six overtime losses, five of which have come in the shootout. Just over the course of the last six games, Detroit has taken the maximum 12 points, largely thanks to three consecutive shootout victories and five wins in either OT or a shootout in that stretch. In fact, dating back to March 21st of last season, the Wings are a perfect 7-0 in shootouts. There is a reason that Jimmy Howard’s stats have been so remarkable this year, and there is a reason that he has to be considered a frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy already this season. Assuming that he gets the start in this one, Howard will be going for win No. 30 on the season, and considering that it is the last time that Detroit will be at home until a week into February, we see no reason why he won’t be manning the pipes.
St. Louis Blues @ Detroit Red Wings Pick: At some point, the Red Wings are going to lose a game at home again this year. The team has been flirting with losses left and right, and now is the time that we think that someone is going to sneak up on Detroit in Motown. Don’t be overly shocked if the Blues find a way to eke this one out in what should be a game that is full of emotion on Monday.
Free Hockey Pick: St. Louis Blues
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