Red Wings-Blues Preview

The St. Louis Blues have some work to do to get into playoff

contention but they’re heading in the right direction.

Until their most recent game, the same couldn’t be said for the

Central Division-leading Detroit Red Wings.

After snapping a four-game skid in stunning style, the Red Wings

will try to deny the host Blues a fourth straight victory Saturday

night.

St. Louis’ hopes of making a second playoff appearance in five

seasons took a serious blow during a recent 1-7-0 slump that lasted

two weeks. The Blues (31-28-9) have bounced back from that stretch

by scoring at least four goals in three consecutive games.

Andy McDonald had one of those scores and two assists in the

most recent one, a 4-1 victory over Montreal on Thursday, and

Jaroslav Halak stopped 27 shots against his former team. That win

put St. Louis 10 points behind the Western Conference’s top eight

clubs.

“It was a great team effort and a great team win,” Halak said.

“Hopefully, we can keep growing.”

While the Blues have been growing, the Red Wings had seen their

division lead shrink from 10 points to five during an 0-2-2 skid to

open this month. Detroit (40-20-8) seemed headed for another loss

as it trailed visiting Edmonton 1-0 in the final minute of

regulation Friday.

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot, however, bounced off

the stick of the Oilers’ Andrew Cogliano and into the net with 24.8

seconds left. Pavel Datsyuk then gave his team a 2-1 victory by

scoring with 42 seconds remaining in overtime.

“The last two weeks, it’s almost like we were one of the worst

teams in the league,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve got to

realize we’re a good team. When we have our chances, got to believe

in ourselves and make plays instead of just panicking and stressing

and doing the wrong plays.”

Detroit has made mostly the right plays in its matchups with St.

Louis this season, prevailing in three of four.

After the Red Wings blew a 3-0 lead on Jan. 20, Darren Helm

scored 1:51 into overtime to give the team a 4-3 victory at the

Scottrade Center. The Red Wings’ attempt at a similar rally in that

same building fell short Dec. 23.

Trailing 4-1 after 26 minutes, Detroit scored twice in the

second period but couldn’t find the equalizer. Despite their recent

success in the series, the Red Wings are 2-2-1 in their last five

trips to St. Louis.

Zetterberg has six points in those games and a team-best eight

this season against the Blues. He has 21 goals and 34 assists

against St. Louis – his most in both categories against any

opponent.

The trip to Scottrade Center, then, might be just what the Red

Wings’ leading scorer needs to snap a season-worst, five-game point

drought.

St. Louis’ Patrik Berglund has a team-best six points (three

goals, three assists) this season versus Detroit and four in his

last four overall games.

He might have to try to earn his next points against Jimmy

Howard, who has a 2.48 goals-against average during four straight

wins over the Blues.

Halak, meanwhile, is 1-2-1 with a 4.49 GAA in four career

matchups with the Red Wings, while backup Ty Conklin is 2-2-0 with

a 2.61 GAA in six appearances against his former team.