Season Series: This is the third of six meetings between these Central division rivals. The Blues have taken both matchups this season -- one on the road and on at home -- and five straight going back to last season. On Nov. 27 in Columbus, David Backes broke a 1-1 tie in the third period with a power-play goal, lifting St. Louis to a 2-1 win. On Dec. 18 in the Gateway City, the Blue Jackets held a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes, but the Blues rallied and outscored Columbus 4-1 in the final period to claim a 6-4 win.
All four goalies from both teams have made a start in the season series. In the first encounter, Brian Elliott outdueled Curtis Sanford, while Jaroslav Halak triumphed over Steve Mason in the second game.
Big Story: The Blues bring their four-game winning streak and one of the League's hottest players to Nationwide Arena to take on the League-worst Blue Jackets. David Perron, named the NHL's Third Star of the Week on Monday, has six goals during the winning streak, with at least one tally in each of the four games.
"I'll certainly take the goals that are coming my way right now," Perron said. "Mostly the wins, for sure."
With the wins piling up, St. Louis is just three points behind League-leading Detroit with two games in hand. And while Perron has been dazzling on the offensive side, the Blues continue to put up tremendous defensive numbers. Their 1.91 goals-against average and 11 shutouts are tops among all teams.
Blues: The Blues' defensive abilities were on full display in a 3-0 shutout of Pacific-leading San Jose on Sunday. The victory extended a franchise record with points in 19 consecutive home games, as the Blues are now 16-0-3 at Scottrade Center since Dec. 3 and an NHL-best 24-3-4 overall on home ice. Perron notched a goal with the man advantage, as St. Louis converted on two of three 5-on-3 power plays. They were 4-for-11 with the extra attacker over the weekend (including Saturday's 3-2 overtime win against Colorado), after going just 2-for-35 in the previous 12 games. Many of the players attributed the power-play's boost to the return of veteran forward Andy McDonald, who was back on the ice Sunday after missing 51 games due to a concussion.
"He's just another threat (on the power play)," said Alex Pietrangelo, who scored the other two St. Louis goals, including a power-play tally on which McDonald assisted. "You guys know how dangerous he is. He's been like that his whole career. Tonight's a prime example. He hasn't played in four months. I don't think he missed a beat."
After being pulled in his previous start, Halak bounced back with a solid 25-save effort for his sixth shutout of the season, tying him for the League lead with Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Jaro, going right back to him," coach Ken Hitchcock said of Halak, who has won eight straight starts at home.
Blue Jackets: It was an up-and-down weekend for Columbus. The Jackets won at Minnesota on Saturday, 3-1, only to come home and squander any momentum with a 5-3 loss to Anaheim. The Ducks' Corey Perry notched his second hat trick of the season -- both against Columbus -- as the Jackets dug themselves a 5-1 hole midway through the second period. Columbus battled back, though, as Aaron Johnson and Antoine Vermette found the back of the net during a feisty final 25 minutes. However, the rally was not enough to overcome three power-play goals by Anaheim.
"I think if we had given them 10 power-play opportunities tonight, they might have gotten 10 goals," said interim coach Todd Richards, whose club has the League's worst penalty kill at 75.1 percent.
Who's Hot: Besides Perron, Backes has been finding the scoresheet, posting an assist in each game of the winning streak. … Rick Nash, Columbus' leading scorer, has a season-high five-game point-streak (1-5-6). The Jackets' captain is just two goals shy of registering 20 or more goals for the eighth straight season.
Injury Report: St. Louis placed Jason Arnott (shoulder) on Injured Reserve on Friday and will continue to be without Kent Huskins (ankle), Alex Steen (concussion-like symptoms), and Matt D'Agostini (head). … The Blue Jackets also saw the return of a key player as James Wisniewski was activated off IR on Saturday, although several players remain out of action. Mark Letestu (hand), Kristian Huselius (lower body), Radek Martinek (post-concussion symptoms), Nikita Nikitin (knee), Brett Lebda (thumb), Marc Methot (broken jaw) and Jared Boll (foot) are all sidelined. In addition, Sanford (back) is questionable for Tuesday's game.
Stat Pack: The Blues are an outstanding 23-1-1 when leading after two periods. … In Sunday's loss to the Ducks, Columbus scored on the power play for the fifth straight game, tying a season high.
Puck Drop: The Blues are 20 games over .500 for the first time since March 27, 2003, when they were 41-21-9-6 under then-coach Joel Quenneville.
Last edited by BlueNote57: 02-14-2012 at 05:25 PM.
Last game's GDT and the post-discussion thread included a lot of posts that were over the line. Things escalated, and several people incurred consequences. There were many more that COULD have been assigned.
Let me remind folks:
Trolling and flaming aren't permissible, including in our own GDT. Taunting is not acceptable.
Other posters (from opposing teams) are welcome to come participate in the discussion in our GDT, but will also be held to that standard. If you see a post you think violates site rules, please tag it as "report post" and allow the site moderators to deal with it.
If you choose to visit other team's sites, realize that you're subject to the same standard.
Discussing moderator decisions (including deleted posts, infractions, etc) in the thread is not permissible. If you think you've been unfairly dealt with, bring it up in PM with the moderators.
The Blues' board has a history of pretty civil and intelligent discussion. As moderators, I think we've all tended to give people the benefit of the doubt and not over-moderate. If the tenor of the discussion is as low as last game, you can expect pretty tight moderation and enforcement of the site rules.
Let's talk hockey and enjoy the Blues triumphant march to the playoffs. Goodness knows its been long enough since we've been able to get excited about the team this late in the season. And please, be gracious in victory toward other teams' fans. Let's show some class.
The mods probably don't get enough credit in that regard. They do a good job of cleaning up things that have spiraled and keeping our side of the board looking respectable. I think people get a little over defensive when someone shows up in a GDT to vent at us or "call it how they see it". It's one thing to ask them to keep it on their end; it's another to blow up a page of back talk or try to flame them into pacification. It just doesn't work, and it doesn't represent the board or the fans the way they deserve to be.
Only issue I have is Stewart's name is spelled wrong. (:
Maybe if his name showed up on the scorecard more often, fans would be better at spelling his name
Thanks to the mods for dealing with whatever happened this weekend. I don't post a lot but I do read all of the GDTs and they're much more enjoyable without all of the pettiness. It makes sense that fans are defensive about the Blues, given how great this season has been and how not-great the past seasons have been. I don't think comments about "oh go look in the ____ GDT for a laugh" are really necessary. There's a reason every team has a separate board with separate GDTs- there will probably be negative things said about the Blues in the other team's GDT. I'd rather focus on the Blues than what other fans are saying. Just my $0.02.
I have noticed lately, though, a lot of new posters on the Blues board. I love that the small population of Blues fans on HFboards is starting to grow. GDTs are actually longer than 60 posts now!
Normally I would worry about this being a let down game. But with Hitchcock and the vet's to keep everyone focused, I'm not too concerned. That's not to say I think it will be an easy win. Carter and Nash are both dangerous, and the Blues struggle to score goals. Hopefully McDonald continues to help in that regard. But all in all, I think the Blues take this one 3-1.
This is one of those dreaded 4th game in 6 nights situations. Blues have 11 such situations the remainder of the 27 games on the schedule.
The good news is they really handled the Sharks well during the 3d game in 4 nights. (Sharks scoring the last seven games: 6, 5, 3, 3, 5, 0, 5. Guess which one was the one where all the officials were bribed for teh conspiraciez and the ice was bad and teh TRAPZ?) During the post game Kelly and Pang (thanks again spectr) talked about the players having a meeting in the morning to go over what they needed to do against the Sharks – just got the impression that everybody's focused and everyone loves winning. So that bodes well.
On the other hand, if their energy appears sluggish then it may be a sign that despite the easier schedule (opponents don't come any easier than Columbus this year) the upcoming 4th-in-6 nights games could prove to be a struggle. Thursday's game (vs. NYI) is also one of those, and so is Sunday's game (at Chicago) and next Wednesday's game (at Nashville).
Arnott is on the trip and Korac told us not to expect him out much past the weekend, so I wonder if he plays. My guess is he might play if someone has the flu but if they can give him another couple days rest they'll leave him out. Columbus does play the Blues fairly physically so it might be wise to wait til NYI.
Also sounds like Huskins can basically play any time now. They haven't reassigned Cole yet so maybe another game or two but Huskins is right there on the verge. Hitchcock said he'd wait to get him in there, which is another way of saying he loves his boy Russell. If Huskins can play like he did at the start of the season and stays healthy the rest of the way then I think he will simply take over for Colaiacovo. This Columbus game seems like a classic "Carlo leaves the game with an injury in the first" type of game.
For the record, Russell has had some frustrating games where he's struggled keeping the puck in at the point but he's also a great skater and is a good partner for Polak – I do like the way their games complement each other. To play the game Hitchcock wants to play, there really isn't another partner for Polak who makes more sense to me than Russell. He's just got to limit his mistakes or make them when Polak's in a position to provide support.
If Huskins gets in there due to injury or a guy just needs to rest, and if he plays the way he did in the first nine games, you can't take him out of the lineup. In those games he was stellar and was a better pairing for Pietrangelo than Colaiacovo has been. It's a surprise given his billing as a 6/7 on arrival but play is play. If he earns it he earns it.
Then it would be Colaiacovo or Russell. Colaiacovo is more of a vet, but Russell's a better skating PMD than Colaiacovo and a better fit with Polak as a pairing in Hitchcock's system than would be Cola-Polak. That system says if the forwards all come back to backcheck, a defenseman can then sometimes race up and be the zone entry on the transition to offense and Russell is better at that aspect than Colaiacovo. Hitch might remove Russell in that instance out of deference to Cola's more veteran status, but we really shouldn't pretend Carlo Colaiacovo is some critical defenseman. Huskins was better both offensively and defensively at the start of the season. It's a smaller 9-game sample so it might not hold, but that's why I said IF Huskins plays like that, you really can't justify sitting him in the press box.
If Huskins plays closer to what we expected when the Blues signed him – serviceable but just a body, then the lineup will stay as it is.