The stress that was “Trade Deadline Day” around the NHL has come and gone, and now it is time to settle down and get back to work. It is time for that final push for the playoffs. The St Louis Blues (36-20-9) continue on their 4-game road trip with a game tonight against the Ottawa Senators (30-27-6). The Blues are looking to keep the momentum going from their last game as they play the third game of their road trip. St Louis has cracked the 80 point mark, and sit with 81 points in the Central Division. That still has them in third place in the Division behind Chicago and Dallas who both have 83 points. The Senators have 66 points in the Atlantic Division, which has them in the 5th wild card position 6 points out. They have a definite uphill battle if they want to get into the postseason. Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 PM ET/ 6:30 PM CT.
Preview: This is the second and final meeting between the Blues and the Senators this season. The first meeting between the two was January 4. That game started with St Louis leading by 2-0, but ultimately ended in a 3-2 overtime loss for the boys in Blue. Troy Brouwer and Kevin Shattenkirk netted the goals for the Blues, and Alexander Steen had two assists.
The Blues will be looking to feed off of their recent win in Carolina. After losing 3 straight games in regulation, the win on Sunday gave the Blues a big boost to their morale. The team has momentum as they move into Ottawa, a city where they have done well recently. The Blues have gone 2-0-1 in the past 3 games in Ottawa, and they will be looking to add to that record.
The Blues will get Ryan Reaves back tonight. He had to serve a 3 game suspension for a hit in the Sharks game on February 22. It will be nice to have him back in the lineup.
St Louis did not make any moves on trade deadline day. Acquiring backup goaltender Anders Nilsson a few days before the deadline was the only move that the team made. GM Doug Armstrong said that there was just not enough room in the cap to bring any new players into the mix. He also said that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding all the injured players and when they may return. (blues.nhl)
Jake Allen will once again be in net for the Blues. He will be facing Craig Anderson in goal for the Senators (last time it was Andrew Hammond). Anderson has a 27-20-4 record with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.
The Senators have been dealing with some injuries on their team as well. Kyle Turris has a high-ankle sprain and is out indefinitely, probably the rest of the season. He was initially injured December 5, but re-injured it January 18. He has been playing on the injured ankle and is now facing the fact that he needs the time to heal. Turris has 13 goals and 17 assists. The team has also been without Clarke MacArthur for an extended period of time (Oct 14) with a concussion. He is out of the lineup as well. (senators.nhl)
The Sens just returned home from a 3-game road trip where they went 2-1-0. Now they turn their sights to home and a quick 2-game homestand. The Sens have won their last 3 games at home, and have gone 5-2-0 in their last 7 at home.
The Sens are trying to claw their way into the playoffs. They are desperate and the Blues should not turn their back on them. As we are aware Zack Smith can be dirty. He placed a dirty hit on Robby Fabbri in the last meeting between the teams when he took his stick to Fabbri’s mid-section. You may remember that Smith is also the one that hit Steen in the head last season. That hit took Steen out with a concussion for a time. This may be one game where we are very glad to have Reaves back. We do not need to add to our injured players list.
Injury Report: Steve Ott is on IR after hamstring surgery. Brian Elliott is on LTIR with a lower-body injury. Steen is on IR with an upper-body injury. Jori Lehtera is out after taking a puck to the face.
Let’s Go Blues!
Review: The Blues were in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon. This turned out to be a strange game.
Alex Pietrangelo returned from injury, and it was just in time. The Blues entered the day having lost three consecutive games in regulation for the first time all season.
Even though the trade deadline was not until Monday afternoon, trades were going down right and left on Sunday. Just before the game, Hurricanes’ captain Eric Staal was taken off the roster and it was then announced that he was traded to the New York Rangers. That had to be a blow to the team. It was rather surprising that they didn’t wait until after the game, but there you go. The team apparently didn’t have any healthy players to put in his spot in the lineup, so they would play one man down. Ouch.
The Blues pounce on the Hurricanes early in the game. Scottie Upshall takes an initial spin-o-rama shot that Cam Ward stops with his pads. The rebound comes out to Robby Fabbri who buries a shot over Ward’s glove 2:17 into the game. Rattie now has 4 goals in his last 8 games. Great job. The Blues were up 1-0.
The Hurricanes put up a fight. With the clock reading 11:59 Jeff Skinner notches a goal. Ron Hainsey fed Skinner the puck in the corner, and Skinner took a shot that squeaked through between Jake Allen’s arm and body. The game was tied 1-1.
Before the period was out the Canes would get another. It was only 1:23 after Skinner’s goal when Hainsey took a shot from the point through a screen. The puck hit the post before entering the goal. Hainsey had a goal and an assist in less than a minute and a half. The Blues were down 1-2.
The Blues came back in the second period. It only took 20 seconds from the drop of the puck for Magnus Paajarvi to win a battle for the puck along the corner boards. He circled the net for a wraparound shot that rebounded off of Ward and into the slot. David Backes was right there on the doorstep to knock it home, and the game was tied 2-2.
Things started to get weird in the second period. It was strange that Eric Staal had been traded shortly before the game. It now became evident that suddenly some players were missing from the Hurricanes’ bench. Were they traded mid-game? No one knew. All anyone knew was that Kris Versteeg and Riley Nash, both of whom had been the center of trade rumors, were now not there. The two had played in the first period. The Canes were now playing with an even shorter bench, 9 forwards and 6 defensemen. Wow.
With 8:52 remaining in the second period the Blues get a shorthanded goal. Upshall and Kyle Brodziak manage to breakaway. Upshall fed Brodziak who shot high, glove side past Ward. This was Brodziak’s 3rd goal of the season, and the Blues’ second shorthanded goal of the season. The Blues now led 3-2.
The Hurricanes were noticeably struggling by the end of the period. They just wanted to get through this, it was clear.
The third period came and Carolina still was playing with the shortened bench. It was not surprising that St Louis was able to capitalize again. Fabbri cut through the slot taking the puck from his forehand to his backhand, and he tucked it around the left toe of the goaltender. It was 6:02 into the third and the Blues led by 4-2.
A mere 37 seconds later and the Blues add to the Canes misery taking a three goal lead. The Blues moved the puck around until Patrik Berglund took an opportunity with Ward out of position, and fed Pietrangelo on the left faceoff dot. Pietrangelo waited for what seemed like forever before taking his shot, but it was a great one. He had a wrist shot into a clear net and the Blues were up 5-2.
That’s where this one ended. The Final: Blues 5, Hurricanes 2.
Versteeg was eventually traded to the Kings, but not until Monday. Nash didn’t end up getting traded.
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr