St. Louis Blues vs. Florida Panthers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 9th 2024

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The Florida Panthers cruise into St. Louis with a seven-game winning streak and considerable offensive momentum.

“When you can get on a roll like this, it takes some pressure off some other times throughout the season when it’s not going well,” Panthers winger Sam Reinhart said. “I think we were kind of struggling a bit, both mentally and physically through the grind, kind of getting back from those two long road trips in December. It was nice to get to regroup over Christmas.”

The Panthers will try to sustain that roll Tuesday against the Blues as they conclude a four-game road trip.

Florida won the first three games of the trip by the combined score of 16-6. The Panthers dispatched the Colorado Avalanche 8-4 on Saturday behind Reinhart’s hat trick.

“I know it’s a hat trick, but we’ve seen that hockey from him all year,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

Reinhart has scored 10 times during Florida’s winning streak.

Through the weekend’s games, the Panthers were third best in the NHL with 99 goals allowed, and they had a plus-24 goal differential.

“We’re pretty deep down the lineup. We have a lot of guys that can score and make nice plays,” Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s hard work. Everybody’s working hard. When we do that, we’re going to create a lot of chances and look good out there.”

The status of Panthers forward Sam Bennett is uncertain. He exited the game at Colorado in the second period with an upper-body injury, but Maurice didn’t believe it was serious.

Bennett was back at practice Monday and told reporters that he felt good, but Maurice said the Panthers will re-evaluate him Tuesday.

The Blues have won their last two games by 2-1 scores, against Vancouver at home Thursday and Carolina on the road Saturday. They delivered stout defensive efforts and got terrific goaltending from Jordan Binnington.

“Before Christmas, I think we had some OK hockey, but found a way to win hockey games,” said Blues captain Brayden Schenn, whose shootout goal decided the victory over Carolina. “After the break, playing teams like Dallas and Colorado, and being right in the mix with Vancouver and Carolina. It’s a confidence booster in our locker room, but we know how hard we’re working. Nothing’s come for free.

“I think we’ve got to realize that the rest of the month, and probably the rest of the season, is going to be like this.”

St. Louis has gone 7-3-0 since general manager Doug Armstrong promoted Drew Bannister from Springfield of the AHL to replace coach Craig Berube on an interim basis.

“If you’re going to play in games like this, you have to be competitive,” Bannister said. “If you’re going to be able to match Vancouver, Colorado, Carolina, you can’t come in here and think you’re going to have an easy night. It’s going to be tough every night. We have work. We have to compete. We’ve got to skate.”

After allowing at least five goals in consecutive starts before the holiday break, Binnington has allowed just four goals in his last three games while stopping 75 of 79 shots.

“It was nice just to reset,” Binnington said. “Take those days and get away and come back to it. We’re playing hard, we’re playing the right way, which is giving us a chance to win.”

–Field Level Media

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