The St. Louis Blues are looking to rebound from a tough loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night but they must battle a streaking Phoenix Coyotes team fighting for a division title.
The Blues layed an egg in San Jose, allowing 3 goals in the first period en route to a 5-3 loss that looked closer than it actually was. The Blues peppered Antti Niemi with 45 shots but could not place them in the right spots. The Sharks on the other hand found every hole imaginable in Jaroslav Halak.
Two bright spots for the Blues, though, continues to be the play of forewards David Backes and Andy McDonald. Backes has points in six of his last seven games including a goal and an assists in San Jose. He currently leads the team with 26 goals and did score in the previous game against the Coyotes.
McDonald has been solid since his return from a concussion on February 4th. In 23 games since his return, McDonald has 10 goals and 14 assists, just above a point per game average.
With the many injuries and trades this team has made recently having consistent scoring from somewhere was imperative. While not able to lead this team to the playoffs the abilities of these two players, as well as others like Chris Stewart, has shown what the future can be like in St. Louis.
The Coyotes are coming off of a hard fought 2-1 loss against Chicago but are still 4-1 in their last five games and are right in the thick of the playoff race. Phoenix trails the Sharks by three points for the division title and third place in the Western Conference.
Illya Bryzgalov has once again proven he is a budding star in this league with a 32-18-8 record and a 2.54 goals against average and helping to lead another young Coyotes team into the playoffs.
The Coyotes may be young but they have a good amount of experience drizzled though the team as well. Veterans like Shane Doan and Lee Stempniak are able to teach younger players the ins and outs of a season and have done a remarkable job in that aspect.
The Coyotes have 11 players with more than 10 goals this season compared to the Blues seven players. Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata lead the team with 18 goals apiece with veteran Keith Yandle lading with 46 assists.
The Blues are 1-2 against the Coyotes this season. The Coyotes exacted revenge for a New Year’s Eve loss in the teams last meeting by beating the Blues 4-3 with a late third period goal by Taylor Pyatt.
This will be the final meeting between these two teams this season and the Blues will look to dampen the Coyotes hopes of a division crown with a victory tonight. Every game is crucial for the Coyotes, if not for a division title, but for staying in the playoffs even.
Pheonix sits just four points ahead of eighth place and a run of a few bad games can push them right out of the playoffs. Look for a strong, physical battle tonight as a team with nothing to lose looks to defeat a team with everything to gain.