Bruins-Blues Preview

For a Boston Bruins team that has struggled to score goals and

win games throughout February, a trip to St. Louis doesn’t seem

like the best elixir.

The Blues, meanwhile, are trying to take full advantage of home

ice before heading out on a difficult road stretch.

St. Louis looks to extend its remarkable run of success at

Scottrade Center on Wednesday night and send the sputtering Bruins

to their first three-game losing streak since October.

Multiple trends will need to change for Boston (35-20-2) to

avoid that fate.

For one, the Bruins have four shutout defeats while going 3-6-0

this month, a particularly troubling fact considering the Blues

have blanked 10 visitors to St. Louis this season.

The Blues (36-16-7) haven’t lost in regulation at home since

Dec. 3, going 18-0-3 in that stretch – 5-0-0 with three shutouts

since the All-Star break.

“If we go into that game with the same kind of weight we have on

our shoulders lately, it might be a tough night,” Boston coach

Claude Julien told his team’s official website. “Somehow we got to

take that weight off our shoulders and just go out and play and

give it all you got, and you might be surprised at what you can

come out with.

“Sometimes a good opponent and going out there with that

attitude can make a lot of things happen so that’s what you have to

hope for.”

The Bruins put a season-high 48 shots on goal Sunday at

Minnesota but lost 2-0.

Earlier that day, St. Louis allowed three unanswered goals in

the third period of a 3-1 loss at Chicago.

Coach Ken Hitchcock’s team will have plenty of chances to

correct its inconsistency on the road in the next few weeks, with

six in a row and 13 of 16 away from home after Wednesday. First,

however, the club would love to pick up two more points in St.

Louis as it continues to chase Detroit in the standings.

“We’ve got a strong team here, but there’s been times where

we’ve let it slide for whatever reason,” said Andy McDonald, who

has scored in three straight games. “You watch the way Detroit

plays, it’s the same through three periods. They don’t stray too

much from their game. We have to find the kind of effort where

we’re not having a dropoff.”

There has been little dropoff in the Blues’ outstanding

defensive statistics, thanks in part to two goalies – Brian Elliott

and Jaroslav Halak – among the top four in the league in

goals-against average. Halak, who has four shutouts in his last

five home starts, might be back after a bout with the flu.

Boston also has two netminders among the NHL’s top eight in GAA,

but neither has been at his best lately. Tuukka Rask has allowed 17

goals while losing five straight starts, and Tim Thomas has a

pedestrian .882 save percentage in his last five outings after

setting a single-season league record (.938) in that category last

season.

Both teams are depleted up front, with the Bruins struggling to

replace injured forwards Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton. Already

without Alex Steen and Matt D’Agostini, the Blues lost veteran

Jamie Langenbrunner for at least four weeks Sunday with a broken

foot.

Boston has only three victories in the last 19 meetings but has

won its last two visits to St. Louis.

The Bruins’ lead over Ottawa in the Northeast Division has

slipped to two points and could disappear Wednesday, but they still

have four games in hand on the Senators.