New Jersey Devils improvements against St. Louis, plus opposing team standpoint.

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Nov 4, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) celebrates with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) after their 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

It’s difficult to be critical of the St. Louis Blues right now, considering that they’ve won six straight games, have arguably the hottest player in the league right now in Vladimir Tarasenko, and at least statistically, have the league’s best goalie in terms of goals-against average and save percentage in Jake Allen. As they head into a home matchup against the Devils, they should certainly have the mindset of a winning team.

Tarasenko is producing at an insane pace right now, having scored seven goals over his past five games, and he’s kind of carried the team on his back recently. Especially on Tuesday when he scored the Blues’ only goal, he’s been the lone bright spot for a struggling offensive attack. Allen, who created high expectations from the fan base with a very successful NHL cameo in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, has looked even better than expected. He’s the first Blues rookie since Ernie Wakely in 1969-70 to earn consecutive shutouts, and he’s been extremely poised in what tends to be a pressure situation for a lot of young goaltenders. It’s doubtful that he will break out as the clear number one option unless Brian Elliott falters, which doesn’t seem at all imminent considering his success to start the year, but Allen will be a strong asset for the Blues going forward if he can maintain his current level of effectiveness.

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With that said, the Blues have a few areas in which they could stand to improve. First of all, the offense needs to become more dynamic. While Tarasenko may very well turn into a legitimately dominant scorer long-term, he can’t keep this pace up forever. The Blues have one goal from a forward not named Tarasenko over their past three games (Patrik Berglund on Monday night in New York). Obviously the most important addition to this team over the next few days is going to be Paul Stastny, who’s just about ready to return from a shoulder injury. It’s possible that the center, who had a goal and three assists over his first three games this year, could be back against the Devils on Thursday. His return might be an avenue to jumpstart the scoring attack.

It would definitely help if T.J. Oshie returned to health soon and regained the form which has allowed him to be such an effective player over the past few years. With his injury, it’s easy to forget that Oshie had no goals and just one assist over his first eight healthy games this year. But if Oshie can be the player that we’ve seen in years prior, he’ll surely be an upgrade over current lineup-fillers like Magnus Paajarvi and Chris Porter. However, it’s highly doubtful that Oshie will be back in the next few days, considering that he’s been out of action for over a week and hasn’t returned to practice yet.

By limiting the Blues to one goal on Tuesday night, the Devils proved to the Blues that they are an opponent worthy of respect. With that said, I expect the Blues to be able to continue their winning streak on Thursday, particularly if Stastny returns and can breathe some life into the rest of the offense.

Thanks again to Patrick Karraker of Arch Authority for his contribution.

The Blues are a tough team to play against right now and the Devils will surely have their hands full on Thursday night. They better bring their best game to the arena if they want to pull out a victory.