Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

In the Crease - Week 10

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Still the Champs
The St. Louis Blues have been red-hot, and they're not showing any signs of letting others take the Stanley Cup from them without a fight. The Blues are averaging 3.1 goals per game to rank 13th, while checking in sixth on the power-play. They're also fifth in goals against, ranking fifth in the NHL with just 2.5 goals per game while ranking sixth on the penalty kill, too. As such they enter the new week with a 18-5-3-3 record and 42 points, maintaining a healthy eight-point lead in the ultra-competitive Central Division. They continue to pile up wins, going 10-2 in the past 12 following a victory. And Jordan Binnington is still the one in net, going 13-4-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, showing no signs of a regression. The bad news for everyone else is that backup Jake Allen has acclimated to a backup role and is now flourishing, too.

 Looking Ahead

Tuesday, Dec. 3

Washington at San Jose: The Capitals go with Braden Holtby in between the pipes against Martin Jones for the Sharks. The latter has either been good, or really, really bad, with a lot of inconsistency this season. In fact, that sums up the Sharks this season. They've been either really bad, or really good, with little in between. The Capitals have been really good lately, winning 16 of the past 21 overall, and six of the past seven road games. They're also an impressive 10-4 in the past 14 against the Pacific Division, and that will serve them well on their west coast road swing. In this series the Caps are just 6-21 in the past 27 meetings, however, including 4-9 in the past 13 trips to the Bay Area. The road team has come away with wins in 10 of the past 13, though.

Wednesday, Dec. 4

St. Louis at Pittsburgh: The Blues have Jordan Binnington in between the pipes for a matchup against Matt Murray and the Penguins in a marquee matchup on Hump Day. The Blues will be playing their fourth game in six days, and they seem to excel in that situation. They're 5-0 in the past past five in the fourth game of a 4-in-6. They have won 20 of the past 28 games on the road, too, as they appear poised for another championship run, and they're skipping the part where they struggled early in the season, unlike last year. The Blues have won six of the past seven trips to the Steel City, and the road team is 6-1 in the past seven in this series.

Washington at Los Angeles: The road trip continues for the Caps in L.A., and you read about their dominance inside the Pacific Division above. They'll more than likely turn to rookie Ilya Samsonov to tend the cage in the second end of a back-to-back. They're 5-2 in the past seven when playing on no days of rest, and 21-9 in the past 30 as a road favorite, so don't discount them due to a perceived lack of rest or downgrade in net with their backup. They've fought through for the entire season. While the Kings entered the week with wins in seven of the past nine at Staples Center, they're just 6-22 in the past 28 against the Eastern Conference and 1-4 in the past five as an underdog. However, the Kings have been kryptonite to the Caps, for whatever reason, as Washington is 1-8 in the past nine trips to L.A., and 5-12 in the past 17 overall.

Thursday, Dec. 5

Vegas at N.Y. Islanders: The Golden Knights kicked off their road trip with a successful 4-1 result against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night behind Malcolm Subban. He has made four straight starts for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury, and the Knights haven't missed a beat, winning three in a row. These teams have yet to meet this season, but Vegas swept the season series in 2018-19, including a 3-2 win on the Island as moderate favorites last Dec. 12. The under is 2-0-1 in the past three meetings in this series, and the over hit in the first-ever meeting back on Oct. 30, 2017, but that was a game featuring Maxime Lagace in net for Vegas. He is long gone from the organization.

Buffalo at Calgary: The Flames search for the season sweep against the Sabres after pushing past Buffalo in overtime in the first meeting on Nov. 27, an entertaining 3-2 battle between David Rittich and Linus Ullmark. Elias Lindholm sent the home folks away sad with the game-winning tally just 77 seconds into OT. That is one of 10 consecutive 'under' results for Calgary heading into the month of December, as the Flames are well rested since Nov. 30. The Sabres sit near the top of the Atlantic Division standings, but this will be a good measuring stick road trip to see exactly where they are. They throttled New Jersey 7-1 before heading out of town, including five first-period goals to chase Louis Domingue. While the 'over' has been the prevailing trend for the Sabres lately, the 'under' has hit in four straight against Western Conference foes.

Friday, Dec. 6

Los Angeles at Edmonton: The Kings travel to Edmonton, and the Oilers likely have had this one circled on the calendar for a while. L.A. smacked the Oil around on Nov. 21, winning 5-1 at Staples Center for one of the worst beatings administered to the Oilers this season. Jonathan Quick turned back the clock in that one, while Mike Smith didn't have it that night. He is likely be remain sidelined due to a lower-body issue, so it will likely be Mikko Koskinen in the crease for this one. That's probably a good thing, because Smith has started the first two meetings and Los Angeles is averaging 5.0 goals per game in the first two, with the 'over' 1-0-1. Edmonton was able to come away with a 6-5 win in the season opener Oct. 5 at home.

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