When the Blues play their first game after the All-Star break, they will have games in hand on everyone in the West except San Jose. Those games feature a road heavy schedule, with only 13 home games in the 33 remaining. January, easily the softest month on the schedule, features 9 out of 11 games at home and against only one division leader (home vs. either Van or Min on Jan 12/14).
Games Played thru Feb 2:
Los Angeles 51
St. Louis 49
San Jose 48
Those 33 games feature a 6-game road trip followed by three games at home and then a 7-game road trip.
There was a weird comment by Hitchcock in today's Post. He said, "We're going to know where we stand. We think we stand at a certain level, but we're going to find out. By the 10th of January, we're going to know against good teams where we stand because we play so many of them before that date."
I can't figure out what the significance of the January 10th is. The first four games in January are home against Phoenix, Edmonton and Colorado and then at Montreal. None of these teams is in playoff position, whereas the three games immediately after are tougher (home games against playoff-positioned Vancouver, Minnesota and Dallas). I thought maybe January 10th signified half the season but it's the 42-game mark, so that's not it.
I'd also point out that the Blues have NINE full days off around the All-Star break which is a serious aberration. Two teams play three games in that span, 21 more play twice and the other six play once. The Blues are the only team to have no games in the nine days from Jan 25-Feb 2. Yet they have seven back-to-backs down the stretch, the most they'll have in any two month period during the season.
They have to get points out of this current tough week and then feast at home in January. Before they break Jan 24, they have 11 home games (DAL x2, NSH, PHX, EDM x2, COL, VAN, MIN, BUF, PIT), a trip to Montreal and all three season trips to Detroit.
I don't see it as the Blues getting the shaft. They get a wonderful January. Different teams have different hardships. I think it's San Jose who has a nine-game road trip in February.
I see it as an aberration that the Blues are so weirdly idle around the All-Star break. I do think they need to exploit January to the fullest and keep piling up points because there are a bunch of road games and back-to-backs after the break. Even though they're good, they're obviously better at home than on the road.