Jets-Blues Preview

The St. Louis Blues are on a roll since acquiring Ryan Miller.

Losing Vladimir Tarasenko, however, threatens to slow them down.

Though one of their top scorers is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks, the Blues appear to have the goaltending to compensate and Miller likely gets another opportunity Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

St. Louis (46-14-7) is leading in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, holding a two-point lead over both San Jose and Anaheim.

The Blues are one of the league’s hottest teams, going 7-0-1 this month, a run that has coincided with Miller’s acquisition from Buffalo. He’s 6-0-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average during that stretch, making 30 saves in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Nashville.

Tarasenko had a goal against the Predators, giving him six points during a five-game streak. The 22-year-old right wing, tied for second on the team with 21 goals, won’t be extending that run any time soon since he’s expected to undergo surgery on his right hand.

Tarasenko’s extended absence could increase St. Louis’ reliance on Miller, who had 25 saves with the Sabres in a 4-2 win over the Jets (31-29-9) on Dec. 17.

With Tarasenko out, the Blues hope to see Alexander Steen regain his scoring touch. Steen still leads the team with 30 goals, but only three have come in the last 15 games, including one in Saturday’s victory. He joins his father, Thomas, as the third father-son combination to reach 30 goals in a season.

Thomas Steen did it for Winnipeg in 1984-85.

"That will be nice to chat about after the season is over, and especially when the career is over, but right now, it’s another goal," Steen said of the milestone.

Steen failed to score against the Jets on Feb. 8, and also didn’t convert on his shootout attempt in a 4-3 win. He had five goals over the previous four meetings.

The Blues have dominated the Central Division, going 19-0-2. They’re also 6-0-2 in their last eight meetings with Winnipeg, winning the past three at home with T.J. Oshie and Tarasenko converting in the tiebreaker last month.

Oshie has eight points in seven games, and has tied his career of 54 set in 2011-12.

The Jets are looking to build on Sunday’s 7-2 win over Dallas, snapping a season-high six-game slide.

Still, Winnipeg is four points back of the Stars and Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference. The team is hoping its best offensive output of the season can help it to begin cutting into that deficit.

"We’re a little too far back to have statement games," said Blake Wheeler, who tied his career high with four assists. "It was a good step for us. It was a good start to hopefully something good here. We’ve got to rally and string a bunch together now."

Dustin Byfuglien has six goals and two assists in five games after scoring twice Sunday and setting up a goal by Olli Jokinen.

Byfuglien has nine points over his past eight meetings with the Blues.

Wheeler had two assists in the most recent matchup with St. Louis, giving him 10 points – six goals – in nine career meetings.