With the Flyers' win streak at four games, they'll get maybe their toughest test yet this Saturday afternoon when they face the team currently sitting atop the entire NHL in the St. Louis Blues -- the only team left in the league that the Flyers haven't faced yet once this season.
The teams haven't played since October 2011, when the Blues picked up a 4-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. To re-familiarize ourselves with our opponents, I asked a few questions to Laura over at St. Louis Game Time, the network's Blues blog. You can see her answers to my questions below. (I also answered some questions about the Flyers for them, and you can read those here.)
1. The Blues made probably the biggest splash of anyone at the deadline by moving picks for Ryan Miller (and Steve Ott, but let's focus on Miller). He's obviously got off to a pretty good start in St. Louis. How much more of a threat do you think he makes the Blues to win a Cup this year?
I think he helps slightly. People are focusing on the intangibles that he brings, and that's because he and Halak aren't hugely statistically different (trust me, it was fought about on Game Time a LOT). He does seem more confident and that should help. He (and Ott) don't fix the fact that the offense can freeze up sometimes, and the fact that the Blues didn't address that glaring problem bothers me.
2. What's the goal in the final month of the season for the Blues? They'll almost certainly win the Central and they've got the inside track on the Presidents' Trophy (and home-ice throughout the playoffs). So what are people hoping to see from them as they tick through their final 13 games?
Score, apparently - the Blues rode Steen and Backes at the start of the season, but since the Olympic break the scoring against playoff teams is dropping off. I'm not calling the Blues a paper tiger, but their goal needs to be to figure out how to fix noticeable problems during a game so they can score. If they have an issue, they bang it out. That might not work in the playoffs.
3. And on that note, are there any matchups in the first round that you'd prefer to others? Any that you'd prefer to avoid?
I think a Blues/Blackhawks first round would be very much fun to watch, but honestly a Blues/Wild or a Blues/Stars first round would be preferable. I really, really do NOT want to see any teams from the state of California at any point in the playoffs. The Blues have been terrible against them this year because they're built the same way St. Louis is and can shut them down. Here's hoping that the Pacific Division consumes their own.
4. The Blues are such a deep team and have a lot of really good players but they aren't a team that seems to have one guy that maybe is the clear-cut star on the team (the way that, say, their opponent on Saturday does with one Claude Giroux). Who would you say is the Blues' MVP this year?
I'll go with Oshie. Steen was my reflexive first start because he's having such a wonderful season, but Oshie is good in every situation, on every line. He busts his butt and I can't recall a time where he's ever taken a shift off or floated. He's very versitile, and Hitchcock can place him with anyone to get a line going.
5. Let's say that the Flyers win on Saturday. How do they pull that off? (In other words, what's the recipe for success for teams that find a way to beat the Blues?)
Play them hard against the boards and fluster them. Chicago did this from the get-go on Wednesday night, and it threw the Blues for a loop that they never recovered from.
Big thanks again to Laura for answering our questions. Go check out St. Louis Game Time again for insight on the Blues in general and in advance of tomorrow's matchup.