Maple Leafs-Blues Preview
The high-scoring Alexander Steen was once a first-round draft
pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who could have used his help in
The St. Louis Blues winger will instead try for another
successful performance against the Maple Leafs on Thursday
Toronto (16-13-3) has posted one of the lowest goal-scoring
averages in the league (2.09) during its 3-6-2 stretch and has a
combined three goals in back-to-back losses. The Leafs outshot
visiting Los Angeles 39-23 on Wednesday, but Cody Franson had the
only goal in a 3-1 loss.
Toronto gave up two goals in the final 11 minutes and has been
outscored 15-3 in the final periods of its last 11 games.
“They’re down because we had so many opportunities, so many
offensive chances,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “If we continue to
apply that type of work ethic, we’ll win our share of games, but
it’s like pushing a snowball. Every time you lose, it gets
The Blues (20-6-3), meanwhile, have won two of three after Kevin
Shattenkirk scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:02 remaining in
Tuesday’s 2-1 victory in Winnipeg.
“We outfought for three pucks just to get that opportunity,
which is what happened for the whole third period, which was really
impressive,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “As the game wore on, our
confidence came back to fight for pucks and to battle.”
Steen tallied his 21st goal in the second period and ended a
four-game drought. He is now three goals away from matching his
career high set in 68 games in 2009-10, his first full season in
Steen, the 24th overall pick in the 2002 draft, had 50 goals and
76 assists in 253 games for Toronto before being dealt to the Blues
along with defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo on Nov. 24, 2008. Steen has
totaled 94 goals and 116 assists in the 313 games since, but this
is shaping up to be easily his most productive campaign.
Steen will next try to add to his two goals in three career
matchups with the Maple Leafs. He and the Blues are facing Toronto
for the first time since a 3-2 shootout loss in St. Louis on Nov.
Toronto has won the past two meetings in shootouts after losing
eight of 10, and Phil Kessel tallied a combined three goals in
those games. Kessel, who had the shootout winner in the most recent
meeting, had four goals and four assists during a six-game point
streak that was snapped in a 5-2 loss to Boston on Sunday, and he
was credited with an assist in Wednesday’s defeat.
Before earning its victory in Winnipeg, St. Louis had a
season-high five-game home win streak end with a 5-2 loss to
Anaheim on Saturday. The Blues are 12-2-2 at home this season and
8-1-1 in their last 10 games there.
Steen has registered 22 of his 33 points at home (12 goals, 10
assists), and T.J. Oshie has two goals and nine assists during a
six-game point streak at the Scottrade Center.
Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf will be wrapping up his two-game
suspension Thursday for a boarding penalty in Sunday’s loss to