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Central Division Class Between Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues

February 7th, 2013 at 8:00 AM
By Frank Vajcner

What: Detroit Red Wings at St. Louis Blues

When: 8 p.m tonight

Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Records: The Red Wings are 4-4-1; the Blues are 6-3-0

Coaches: Mike Babcock is 425-221-19-84 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 356-159-69 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Ken Hitchcock is 582-368-88-81 in his 16th season as a head coach, and 49-18-11 in his second season with the Blues.

Season Series: Tied 1-1

Last Meeting: The Red Wings avenged a 6-0 loss to the same Blues team in the season opener by beating them 5-3. Henrik Zetterberg recorded a hat trick and assisted on the teams' other two goals, which were scored by Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk. The Blues got goals from Kevin Shattenkirk, Matt D'Agostini, and Patrik Berglund.

Red Wings Update: The Wings have inexplicably backslid since the win, having lost to Columbus 4-2, and then again to Calgary 4-1. Johan Franzen scored the lone goal. Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in scoring with 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists). All of his goals have come since he moved back to centering a line with Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner. Franzen appears to have found his stride, as he has scored a goal in the last two games, and Niklas Kronwall has racked up eight points in the last eight games. It remains unclear whether Jimmy Howard (4-4-1, 3.07 GAA, .892 save percentage) will get the start in goal, or call up Petr Mrazek will end up making his NHL debut. Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Brendan Smith (shoulder), and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) all remain out.

Blues Update: Much like the Red Wings, the Blues are coming off of a bad loss. They were ran out of their own building in a 6-1 loss to the Nashville Predators Tuesday. Alex Pietrangelo scored the lone goal for the Blues. They have been led in scoring by rookie Vladimir Tarasenko's 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists). Berglund has also scored five goals this season, and both Shattenkirk (1 goal, 8 assists) and Pietrangelo (2 goals, 7 assists) have each recorded nine points this season. With goaltender Jaroslav Halak (groin) out, expect Brian Elliott (3-3-0, 2.95 GAA, .874 save percentage) to get the start in net, with the only other option being call up Jake Allen. Surprisingly, the Blues rank 18th in goals allowed, and 24th on the penalty kill; something one would not expect of a Hitchcock coached team.


Centers: Zetterberg has found his groove now that he is playing his natural position. He will likely be matched up against stat sheet stuffer David Backes, who has not been as strong. Pavel Datsyuk will likely be matched up against Berglund, who has been decent. With Backes not up to his usual form, this could be one area where the Blues struggle.

Edge: Red Wings

Wingers: Franzen tallied three assists in the last meeting. Tarasenko and Chris Stewart, who combined for four goals in the first meeting, were kept in check in the last meeting. Brunner, Valtteri Filppula, and Todd Bertuzzi will have to play better than their last game. The same goes for TJ Oshie, David Perron, and Andy McDonald.

Edge: Even

Defensemen: Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk will contribute offensively, much like Kronwall has done. Jonathan Ericsson tallied a goal and an assist in the last meeting. Look for him to try and keep that going. Still, this is the best position group for the Blues.

Edge: Blues

Goaltending: Despite getting shellacked in the last game, expect Elliott to get the start for the Blues. There has still been no indication whether Howard or Mrazek will start for the Red Wings, though Babcock has indicated that Howard will get a rest. If he gets the night off…

Edge: Blues

Prediction: Both teams have lost two straight games. With this one being on the road for the Red Wings, they are essentially walking into a hornets' nest. It could be a nasty one with two angry teams going at each other, but it appears the home team will end the skid first.

Make it: Blues 4, Red Wings 2

Season Prediction Record: 4-5-0

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL

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