New Jersey Devils vs. St. Louis Blues Pick & Prediction MARCH 7th 2024

The St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils share the similarities of having changed coaches while chasing wild-card berths.

Both teams have also struggled of late but are hoping to turn things around, starting Thursday night when the Blues oppose the Devils in Newark, N.J.

St. Louis is 19-13-2 since Drew Bannister replaced Craig Berube on Dec. 12. The Blues initially experienced the coaching change bump by going 13-6-1 in Bannister’s first 20 games, but their performance has leveled off.

Since winning five straight to cap that burst, the Blues are 6-7-1, with five losses coming by two goals or fewer.

St. Louis is within six points of the wild-card spots in the Western Conference, which are held by the Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators. Regulation wins are the first tiebreaker in the wild-card chase, and Nashville has four more than St. Louis, while Vegas has two more than the Blues.

The Blues are hoping their visit to the Devils goes far better than what unfolded in their 4-2 loss to the host New York Islanders on Tuesday. Alexey Toropchenko and Jordan Kyrou scored in the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second period for a 2-0 lead, but St. Louis allowed the Islanders to tie the game by the end of the second and fell behind 55 seconds into the third.

“Those points, we need all of them,” Kyrou said. “Tough game for us today. We need to be better in the next game. They got the lead there, and they just started playing super defensive. We were up 2-0 in a good spot on the road, and we just let it slip away.”

The Devils will be playing their second game since Travis Green took over on an interim basis on Monday. Lindy Ruff was fired a day after New Jersey took a 5-1 loss to the host Los Angeles Kings. In that game, the Devils scored 15 seconds into the contest but not again.

New Jersey is on a three-game losing streak and is 3-7-0 over its past 10 games. Four of those defeats were by at least three goals. The Devils trail the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings (72 points each) by eight points in the wild-card race, but New Jersey also is behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals and the Islanders.

On Tuesday, Green’s debut was a 5-3 home loss to the Florida Panthers that marked the 45th time in 62 games that the Devils allowed the first goal. New Jersey trailed by two goals 6 1/2 minutes into the game and then gave up the tiebreaking goal 96 seconds after Timo Meier scored the tying goal in the second period.

It was the 18th time the Devils allowed at least five goals, and they are 2-16-0 in those games. Last season en route to a franchise-record 112 points, the Devils allowed at least five goals 12 times.

“Definitely not happy with our start,” Meier said. “I thought maybe a little nerves, just the last 24 hours maybe affected us in the start, but not really an excuse. I thought we battled back well. We had some legs, but I think overall we didn’t come up with enough pucks and win enough battles.”

The Blues beat the Devils won 4-1 on Nov. 3 in St. Louis and are 15-2-1 in the past 18 meetings.

–Field Level Media

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