February 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Johan Franzen (93) skates with the puck against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings – Gameday Preview for February 7, 2013

ST. LOUIS BLUES

vs. DETROIT RED WINGS

February 7th, 2013
Scottrade Center
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Midwest
Season Series is tied at 1-1

February 7th marks the third time this season that the St. Louis Blues will faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings.  After a blow out victory on opening night, the Detroit Red Wings took a game back from the St. Louis Blues last Friday by taking advantage of a bad call against the St. Louis Blues’ Captain David Backes.

Last season the Wings bested the Blues 4-2-0 winning all three contests played at Joe Louis Arena, but the Blues have gotten the best of the Wings at home.  Both the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings have suffered two game losing streaks coming into play tonight and hope to snap their streaks with a big win against a divisional rival.

While the big story coming into tonight’s game is sure to be Wade Redden stepping on the ice for his 1,000th career game, the real story is going to be the matchup in net between the two teams.  With Jaroslav Halak still on the injured reserve, goaltending will be at the forefront of tonight’s matchup.  In the last two games St. Louis has an awful .796 save percentage, but Jimmy Howard isn’t fairing much better with an .843 save percentage in the same time frame which is why the Red Wings will turn to Petr Mrazek tonight in net.  Mrazek is 0-2 this season against the Peoria Rivermen, so we will see how he can fare against the St. Louis Blues.

February 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Kris Russell (4) skates with the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS BLUES

(6-2-0, in Central)

The St. Louis Blues had a terrific start to the season going 6-1-0 and but have faltered as of late.  Starting the month of February with a 5-3 loss in Detroit was not the way Coach Ken Hitchcock and the Blues hoped to continue their strong play in January, but the loss against Nashville really pushed the aggravation over the top.  Following the 6-1 loss to the Predators on Tuesday coach Hitchcock had this to say, “This is a team loss that has been coming for a little while. We’re allowing the other teams’ competitiveness to frustrate us.  It pushes us into individual hockey rather than team hockey.”

With Halak out of the lineup until at least tomorrow, Brian Elliott will need to step up tonight and show that last season was not a fluke.  With youngster Jake Allen on the bench, don’t expect Hitchcock to pull Elliott tonight unless he runs into the same kind of trouble he did against Nashville.

Key players 

Feb 5, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) makes a move to get past Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) during the third period at the Scottrade Center. The Predators defeated the Blues 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Vladimir Tarasenko had scored five points in his last five games prior to Tuesday night.  Expect the young Russian sensation to be pushing himself to get a few more points on the board against a team that he once idolized.  Tonight Tarasenko will be on a line with Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund, so hopefully there will be a new spark of chemistry.  Watch late in the game though as Hitch might put Tarasenko back out with McDonald.  We all know the ability that Tarasneko has with the puck and against a weak defense like Detroit he should be able to work his magic.   Looking back to opening night, Blues fans will be hoping Tarasenko can deke his way to a couple more goals.

Feb 5, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) attempts to break away from Nashville Predators left wing Sergei Kostitsyn (74) during the second period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

David Perron has really picked up his game after a slow start to the season.  With 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 5 games, Perron is really starting to heat up.  One of the downsides to Perron’s game is that he doesn’t seem to pass the puck in key situations.  Although Perron has a hot hand and can hit the back of the net by himself, he needs to use the players around him to his advantage.  Coach Ken Hitchcock is not one for allowing a player to be the star, so I would assume he has been working on this in practice.  If Perron can move the puck more, he should be able to pick up more rebounds and get his name on the scoresheet more often.

Others to watch 

Jan 26, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka (17) and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) and defenseman Wade Redden (6) and center Scott Nichol (12) and right wing Ryan Reaves (75) celebrate a goal during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blues defeated the Stars 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Wade Redden is not the best defenseman on the team, but playing in your 100th career game might be the kind of jolt you would need to go the extra mile.  So far in St. Louis Redden has proved that he still has what it takes to play in the NHL and he has looked more than competent pairing up with Alex Pietrangelo.  That pairing has been a good one for the Blues and has continued to produce solid defense as well as offense.  With the last two games excluded, St. Louis has been a great defensive team again and has managed to keep the opposition away from key scoring chances.  I would look to Redden to try and impress himself and his family that is in town for the special game.

DETROIT RED WINGS

(4-4-1, 4th in Central)

The Detroit Red Wings were one of the teams that the lockout may have taken the most toll on early in the season, but now, a couple weeks in, are showing a new sign of life.  While they have managed to stay afloat in the Central Division, there is still cause for concern in Motown after two consecutive losses to last-place teams.  On Saturday the Wings limped out of Columbus after a 4-2 loss and followed that up with a 4-1 loss to the league worst Calgary Flames.

Key players

Feb 2, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) controls the puck as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) defends during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Henrik Zetterberg was the fan favorite to become the Captain of the Red Wings this season and rightly so.  Despite a somewhat slow start to the season, Zetterberg has scored 11 points in his last 6 games.  A lot of that is thanks to the St. Louis Blues which is only more reason to watch Zetterberg tonight.  He was lucky on their last meeting and he has kept a hot stick for a good stretch now.

Others to watch

Zetterberg is not the only Wing heating up.  Johan Franzen has goals in consecutive games and has 8 points in the last six games.  Franzen is always a strong player in the league and will look to continue his six-game point streak tonight in St. Louis.

Bottom line

The St. Louis Blues should be coming out tonight with a chip on their shoulder.  With the loss to the Red Wings still fresh in their minds, the Blues will hope to take back a couple points from a division rival.  It is not going to be an easy game and might not be a pretty one due to the issues in net for both clubs.  As Wade Redden becomes just the 282nd player in the league to play in 1,000 career games, the Blues will hope to give him a winning memory.  The key tonight will be getting everyone on board for a group effort and whichever team can work best together and get the most out of their goalie will be taking home a couple of points.

Injuries

The Detroit Red Wings have had more than their fair share of injuries this season and tonight will not be any different.  Jan Mursak (collarbone), Darren Helm (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Joey MacDonald (back), and Brendan Smith (shoulder) are all out of the lineup for Detroit.  Another injury for Detroit is former Blues Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) which shouldn’t be any surprise for St. Louis Blues fans.  The only injury for St. Louis is goaltender Jaroslav Halak as he is nursing his strained groin.

Let’s hope the St. Louis Blues can bring home a win tonight in an important division matchup.  LET’S GO BLUES!

-Alex Hodschayan

Tags: Detroit Red Wings Game Preview St. Louis Blues