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    Senators vs. Blues Thursday NHL odds: Drew Bannister debuts behind St. Louis bench; teams unbeaten this season in first game after coaching change

    St. Louis will play its first game under new coach Drew Bannister on Thursday.
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    The third coaching change of the NHL season happened on Tuesday when the St. Louis Blues fired Craig Berube, who led the franchise to its first and still only Stanley Cup championship in the 2018-19 season. The team suffered a brutal loss Monday with several blown leads and enters Thursday's home matchup vs. Ottawa on a four-game skid. Drew Bannister will make his head coaching debut for the Blues, who are +100 on the SportsLine consensus.

    We have mentioned the "coaching bump" previously in this space. The idea is that a team tends to get hot immediately after an in-season coaching change, regardless of the sport. Teams are 2-0 in their first game after a firing a coach this NHL season:

    1. Nov. 13 – Oilers 4, Islanders 1: Edmonton had fired Jay Woodcroft the day before and dominated the visiting Isles under new coach Kris Knoblauch. The Oilers have taken off under him with a 10-3 record and are on an eight-game winning streak entering Thursday's home game vs. Tampa Bay.
    2. Nov. 28 – Wild 3, Blues 1: Minnesota had fired Dean Evason the day before and largely dominated the visiting Blues under new coach John Hynes. The Wild are 5-2 under Hynes entering Thursday's game vs. Calgary (in which I recommended Minnesota).

    St. Louis has 27 points through its 28 games and currently sits one point out of the West's final wild card spot. The Blues are +380 at DraftKings to make the postseason and -500 to miss for a second straight season. The franchise hasn't come close to winning another Cup. The unlikely title run in 2019 was on the back of red-hot goaltender Jordan Binnington, a rookie at the time.

    That St. Louis team was under .500 even later in the season than this one, though. Berube was hired 19 games into the 2018-19 campaign and orchestrated one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NHL history, with St. Louis going from last in the Western Conference in January to winning the Cup.

    While the Oilers and Wild made permanent coaching changes, the Blues are handing Bannister the job on an interim basis. GM Doug Armstrong, whose own job is likely very tenuous, said that a search for permanent coach is underway with no timetable on when a hire will be made.

    "What we want to stress as we're going through whatever we're going through is a level of compete and a level of accountability," said Armstrong at a press conference Wednesday. "Starting with Drew (Bannister) tomorrow night, that's his mandate: accountability and compete."

    Bannister had coached Springfield of the American Hockey League for the past three seasons, guiding it to consecutive Calder Cup Playoff appearances, including the 2022 Calder Cup Final. He also played 164 NHL regular-season games from 1995-2001 for a few franchises.

    St. Louis is a bad offensive team, averaging just 2.82 goals per game (26th in NHL) and is 31st on the power play at 8.4%. The Blues have failed to convert their past 16 chances with the man advantage. 

    It's the first meeting of the season against Ottawa. The Blues are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games against the Senators and 3-1-0 in their last four at Enterprise Center. Arguably the hottest seat in the NHL now belongs to Ottawa coach DJ Smith. 

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