The St. Louis Blues did not end 2011 on a positive note, but
seeing plenty of home ice could help the club get off to a quick
start to 2012.
The Phoenix Coyotes are looking to get back into playoff
contention as a road-heavy portion of their schedule continues.
St. Louis looks to snap a season-high three-game losing streak
and extend its home point streak to eight when it faces Phoenix on
The Blues (21-12-5) have gone 15-5-5 since coach Ken Hitchcock
replaced the fired Davis Payne on Nov. 6, but they start the new
year on an 0-2-1 skid. St. Louis has scored three times during the
“We’ve got to learn how to battle back,” center Scott Nichol
said after a 3-0 loss at Detroit on Saturday, the Blues’ second
road defeat to the Red Wings in five days. “You’re going to be
behind a goal or two.”
St. Louis will be trying to avoid its first four-game slide
since Feb. 27-March 5, and a return to home ice could help. The
Blues, who have one of the league’s best home records at 14-3-2,
play 10 of their next 12 at the Scottrade Center.
The Coyotes (19-16-4) continue to battle through a rough stretch
of games, as they play six of eight on the road to open January
after not having more than two consecutive contests at home last
“In 18 years as a pro I’ve never had a schedule this bad,”
defenseman Adrian Aucoin wrote on a blog on the Coyotes’ official
Still, the club arrives in St. Louis just out of the final
playoff spot in the Western Conference following a 4-2 victory at
Minnesota on Saturday. Radim Vrbata snapped a five-game point
drought with a pair of third-period goals, while Ray Whitney and
Daymond Langkow also scored.
Recent call-up Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves in his first
start for the Coyotes, who snapped a season-high four-game skid
that started with a 3-2 home loss to St. Louis on Dec. 23.
“We’re a team where everybody has to contribute,” coach Dave
McElhinney played well in his first start since April 9 with
Ottawa, but it’s uncertain if he or Jason LaBarbera will be in net
Top goalie Mike Smith has been skating since Sunday and could
return after being placed on injured reserve last week with a groin
It’s also unclear if Brian Elliott will be in net for the Blues
after losing a second straight start for the first time this season
Saturday. Elliott, however, made 24 saves in the last matchup with
Phoenix and is 8-1-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average at home.
Jaroslav Halak is 6-2-2 with a 2.08 GAA at the Scottrade Center
after making 33 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on
Friday. The Blues had won a season-high six straight at home prior
If the Coyotes are going to hand St. Louis another defeat on
home ice, they may need to be better on the power play. Langkow’s
goal Saturday came after the club failed in 11 opportunities with
the man advantage over the previous four games, including all three
“It was huge for us to not only score but get some momentum on
our power play,” captain Shane Doan said. “The last couple games
it’s almost taken away our momentum.”
The Blues are last in the NHL on the power play at 12.4
St. Louis center Alex Steen is questionable after missing two
games with concussion-like symptoms. He scored against Phoenix last
The Coyotes will be without forward Raffi Torres, who was
suspended two games without pay Monday for charging Wild defenseman
Nate Prosser on Saturday.