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Breaking Down the Blues

Thursday, 10.30.2008 / 10:13 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Breaking Down the Blues

The Canes go into tonight’s game in St. Louis needing a win to tie their second-best six-game road trip in franchise history, a record set just last year.  That might surprise you, since the 2-1-2 they’ve posted so far isn’t stellar, but that just goes to prove how difficult these long trips are.

Paul Branecky
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The story with St. Louis so far this year has been their special teams, particularly their NHL-best power play, which ranks first in the league at 34.2 percent after finishing last year dead last at only 14.1 percent.  A very impressive turnaround so far, fueled in part by the resurgence of Keith Tkachuk (league-leading eight power play goals) and Paul Kariya (12 points in eight games), who are all of the sudden putting up 1998 numbers again.

Their penalty killing isn’t bad either (sixth overall, 87.1 percent), which leads me to believe that if the Canes are to win this game, they’ll have to dominate the even-strength play, where the Blues haven’t been as good (-3 goal differential).  That’s also reflected in the poor plus/minus ratings of several prominent players, including Andy McDonald (12 points, -5), Brad Boyes (11 points, -4) and number one defenseman Erik Brewer (-5)

On the injury front, the Blues don’t have as many ailing players as the Hurricanes, but the ones they’ve had are doozies.  Defenseman Erik Johnson (torn ACL, MCL, golf cart, out indefinitely) and starting goaltender Manny Legace (hip, red carpet at Sarah Palin puck drop, day-to-day) are the highlights.  In addition, rookie defenseman and recent fourth overall pick Alex Pietrangelo is out with neck and knee injuries sustained after the Leafs’ Ryan Hollweg boarded him two weeks ago, leading to a three-game suspension for Hollweg.

The injuries to Legace, backup goaltender Chris Mason (emergency appendectomy) and third-string goalie Ben Bishop (groin) have led the Blues to use four goaltenders this year – the most of any team in the NHL. 

Mason is expected to play for the first time tonight since undergoing the procedure on October 16, with Marek Schwarz backing him up.  Mason says he’s ready, but I wouldn’t be surprised if all the goaltending injuries sped up his return a little bit.  The Canes will want to test him early on.

Here’s a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on McDonald to help you pass the time before tonight’s game.  As a relatively small player, he’s a great example of a post-lockout late-bloomer.  I had no idea he was 31 already.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81