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Wild 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 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 61 26 31 4 157 191 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 62 25 32 5 170 189 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60