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Game Preview: Blues at Red Wings

February 1st, 2013 at 5:14 PM
By Frank Vajcner

What:  St. Louis Blues at Detroit Red Wings

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight

Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan

TV: Fox Sports Detroit, NHL Network

Records: The Red Wings are 3-2-1; the Blues are 6-1-0.

Coaches: Mike Babcock is 424-218-19-84 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 355-156-69 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Ken Hitchcock is 582-366-88-81 in his 16th season as a head coach, and 49-16-11 in his second season with the Blues.

Season series: The Blues lead the season series 1-0.

Last meeting: The Blues ran the Red Wings out of the building with a 6-0 victory in the season opener January 19. Chris Stewart and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko each scored two goals, and goaltender Jaroslav Halak had to make only 14 saves for a shutout.

Red Wings update: The Wings are coming off of a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars Tuesday night, and should be well rested. Valtteri Filppula scored two goals in the victory. The Wings have gotten exponentially better since the opener, but are still far from being a finished product. Pavel Datsyuk leads the team in scoring with eight points (2 goals, 6 assists), and has done well in the faceoff circle, winning 67% of his faceoffs. Rookie Damien Brunner has been riding a four game point streak, and leads the team in goals scored with three. Also, Henrik Zetterberg has tallied a point in the last five games, and Niklas Kronwall has five assists in the last five games. The Wings will still be without Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), and Ian White (leg). Jimmy Howard (3-2-1, 2.77 GAA, .907 save percentage) will start between the pipes as he continues to improve his stats.

Blues update: The Blues will be playing the second of a back-to-back, as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 last night. Tarasenko, Barrett Jackman, David Backes, and Patrik Berglund all scored goals in the victory. The Blues don't have a superstar goal scorer, but then again, they don't need one when they get balanced scoring. Tarasenko leads the team in scoring with nine points, as well as goals scored with five on the year. Defensemen  Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo, arguably the best defensive pair in the NHL, are first and second on the team in assists with eight and seven respectfully. A big surprise is that Backes, normally one of the better stat sheet stuffers, has gotten off to a slow start, with only one goal on the year. With goaltender Brian Elliott having started last night, expect Halak (3-0, 1.69 GAA, .902 save percentage) to get the start between the pipes.

Matchup to watch: The Red Wings top two lines vs. the Blues top defensive pair. Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk will have their work cut out for them trying to slow down not just the Wings' top line of Johan Franzen, Zetterberg, and Brunner, but the second line of Filppula, Datsyuk, and Todd Bertuzzi. Both lines have combined for 11 goals. It will also be interesting to see if Babcock decides to put Datsyuk against Backes in the faceoff circle, as Backes has been subpar in that department, winning 46% of his faceoffs.

Prediction: This isn't the same Red Wings team that got destroyed in the opener. However, this Blues team is still as good as advertised, and is probably the best team in the West after the San Jose Sharks. This one will be much closer than the opener, but look for the Blues to get a fifth straight win.

Make it: Blues 3, Red Wings 1

Season Prediction Record: 4-2-0

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL

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