On the second night of a back-to-back and with one fewer forward in the rotation Saturday against the Hurricanes, the Blues appeared fresh off the jump offensively, peppering Carolina goaltender Scott Darling on a couple quality sequences early in the first period.
There was nothing remarkable about the Blues’ shot total in the period—they put ten pucks on goal—but the chances they did have elicited some oohs and aahs from the home crowd. The chance that put the Note on the board with the only goal of the opening frame was especially impressive. From behind the net, Alexander Steen whipped the puck right between the circles to Kyle Brodziak, who one-timed a perfect shot past Scott Darling to give St. Louis the lead just 43 seconds into the game.
It didn’t come without some difficult moments, but the Blues ultimately beat the Hurricanes, 3-2. But even during a trying second period for the home team, you probably already knew the game would turn out in the Blues’ favor if you had been paying attention over the last six weeks.
That’s because since November 16th, there has been one pretty simple rule that has dictated whether or not the Blues would win each game—and it doesn’t even require watching the last two periods or a potential overtime to know the outcome.
Simply check the box score after the first twenty minutes: Did the Blues score in the first period?
If yes, they’re going to win.
If no—well, you might as well turn off the game. They’re going to lose.
At least, that’s been the case over the Blues’ last 22 contests. Beginning with a 4-1 win over Edmonton on 11/16, the Blues have played exactly .500 hockey—11 wins and 11 losses. And the remarkable trend has held for each and every outcome. The Blues are 11-0 when they score at least one goal in the first period. They’re 0-11 when they don’t.
Obviously, there's much more that goes into a win or loss for an NHL club—but it's pretty wild that for a stretch of games equivalent to 26.8% of the entire season, this trend has held true for the Blues, night in and night out.
So take Saturday night as the latest example. Sure, the tumultuous second period where the Blues extended their lead to two goals—and the subsequently allowed Carolina to roar back and tie it up—was pretty interesting. And that third period, with Scottie Upshall’s go-ahead goal and wicked celly? Then it had Carter Hutton turning into a brick wall against a late-game 6-on-4 advantage for the Hurricanes? Great theatre, indeed.
But you didn’t actually need to watch any of it to know how it would all unfold—once Brodziak scored 43 seconds into the first period, the Blues clearly had it in the bag.
Thank goodness he didn’t miss the net.