Blues-Red Wings Preview

Plenty has changed since the St. Louis Blues dominated the

Detroit Red Wings in the teams’ season opener.

The Red Wings have taken two meetings since that poor effort and

won a season-high three straight overall as they try to hand the

visiting Blues a sixth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.

St. Louis (6-5-1) was spectacular in a 6-0 home victory over

Detroit on Jan. 19, but the Blues have lost twice to the Red Wings

(7-4-1) during their 0-4-1 slide. They’ll be trying to avoid

dropping six in a row for the first time since a 0-5-2 skid Dec.

26, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010.

“It’s an easy time to beat everybody up,” St. Louis coach Ken

Hitchcock said. “We’re not playing with the sense of urgency

collectively throughout our lineup necessary to win in the National

Hockey League.”

Detroit has won four straight home matchups with St. Louis, the

most recent a 5-3 victory Feb. 1. Henrik Zetterberg matched a

career high with five points in that contest, and he’s among the

league leaders with 13 assists and 18 points.

The Red Wings also won 5-1 at St. Louis last Thursday, as Petr

Mrazek made 26 saves in his NHL debut with Jimmy Howard getting a

night off.

That started this win streak for Detroit, which has taken the

first two of a four-game homestand with one-goal victories over

Edmonton on Saturday and Los Angeles on Sunday.

Pavel Datsyuk scored in both contests after going three games

without a point.

“When I watch Pavel Datsyuk play, all I think about is how much

will he has and how determined he is,” coach Mike Babcock told the

Red Wings’ official website. “He just keeps coming. He doesn’t care

who it is or who he’s playing. The best of the best are

ultra-competitive and they bring it every single day.”

While the Red Wings are playing well at home, the Blues

completed an 0-3-1 homestand with a 4-1 defeat to the Kings on

Monday.

Jaroslav Halak was scheduled to make his first start since

leaving the Feb. 1 outing against Detroit with a groin strain.

Halak, though, re-aggravated the injury and struggling Brian

Elliott made 19 saves on 23 shots.

Now the Blues hope to regroup on a three-game trip.

“This is the homestand from hell,” Hitchcock said. “We lost our

goalie, we didn’t play as well and now we’ve got to take this onto

the road and we’ve got to be much more accountable to each

other.”

Elliott has gone 0-3-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average in

three career starts at Detroit, while Halak is 1-3-0 with a 4.48

GAA in his five there.

Howard has posted a 1.86 GAA in winning seven straight home

starts versus St. Louis.

The Blues have converted on a league-leading 34.8 percent of

their power plays, including 7 for 13 against the Red WIngs. Their

woes occur at even strength.

“All our scoring chances against good teams come on the power

play,” Hitchcock said. “They don’t come 5-on-5. Well, you have to

really dig in 5-on-5 against good hockey clubs to create scoring

opportunities. And we don’t get those.”