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Penguins vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Breaking Down the Blues

Thursday, 10.30.2008 / 10:13 AM / 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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 24 16 7 1 62 59 33
2 PIT 22 15 5 2 78 53 32
3 TBL 23 15 6 2 81 63 32
4 NYI 23 16 7 0 74 64 32
5 DET 23 13 5 5 69 58 31
6 BOS 24 14 9 1 61 58 29
7 TOR 22 11 8 3 70 67 25
8 FLA 21 9 6 6 45 53 24
9 WSH 22 10 8 4 63 59 24
10 NYR 22 10 8 4 63 62 24
11 OTT 22 10 8 4 60 59 24
12 NJD 23 9 10 4 57 68 22
13 PHI 22 8 11 3 59 69 19
14 CAR 22 7 12 3 52 65 17
15 BUF 23 7 14 2 39 73 16
16 CBJ 22 6 14 2 51 81 14

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Nash 22 4 11 0 15
E. Staal 17 6 8 -7 14
J. Faulk 22 2 12 -10 14
J. Tlusty 22 10 3 -9 13
E. Lindholm 22 6 5 -5 11
J. Skinner 18 5 6 -5 11
N. Gerbe 18 3 6 2 9
A. Sekera 21 0 8 -6 8
C. Terry 17 4 3 1 7
V. Rask 22 3 3 -8 6
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 7 8 1 .907 2.57
A. Khudobin 0 4 2 .898 2.97