Coming into this season the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues were largely accepted as locks to win their respective divisions and challenge for the Stanley Cup as favourites. For the Canucks, winning the Northwest won’t be as easy as it once appeared, and for the Blues, that ship has sailed.
Goaltenders really do have the toughest job on an NHL roster. If you would have asked anyone a year ago who the five best goalies in the league were, anywhere from one to three of the names mentioned would have been Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Certainly if you were building a top ten list you would have placed all four names in the mix.
Look at them now. Luongo is suffering from the drawn out inevitability that he will be traded to another franchise as soon as the Canucks can get a deal they like.
Schneider is still not the starter in Vancouver while Lou hangs around. And what’s worse, he hasn’t truly looked like he should be the starter either.
Brian Elliott isn’t even the backup goalie on the St. Louis Blues anymore. That job has been given to Jaroslav Halak at least for the time being.
Halak is riding shotgun to rookie goaltender and product of Blues drafting and development Jake Allen. Last season’s Jenning’s recipients have both seemingly lost their job to a rookie who had a 3-1 record when it happened. Jake Allen has not looked back since.
This season, the Canucks’ and Blues’ goaltenders have simply not been lights out and not being lights out is enough to not be anything apparently. Chicago Blackhawks goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have been lights out. Anaheim Ducks goaltenders Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have been lights out too. Those are the teams the Canucks and Blues thought they would be this season. However, they are not and that’s okay. As everyone knows, the LA Kings finished 8th and won the Cup a year ago. Maybe both Vancouver and St. Louis are better served to let the Hawks and Ducks steal the headlines now. Both the Canucks and Blues may benefit from limping into the playoffs as underdogs so they can just play their game and not worry about expectations.
Tonight the two teams will play in what will most likely be an angrily fought demonstration of hatred and desperation to win. Mediocrity is not something either of these teams are okay with. They are mad because they want to better. Tonight they are going to take their anger out on each other.