Game Day Preview: St Louis Blues @ Phoenix Coyotes -- 12/23/11

By ryanfrahm

Overview:  The Blues (19-10-4) have not lost back to back regulation games since October and hope to continue that trend on Friday night when they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes (18-13-3).  Phoenix is coming off back to back wins on the road against Eastern Conference foes in Florida and Carolina.  Wednesday night in Carolina they trailed 3-1 in the second period before mounting a comeback with a Lori Korpikowski goal mid way through the 3rd stood to be the game winner.  Jason LaBarbara has been doing well in goal in the last 2 games for the injured Mike Smith and is probably out again against the Blues.

The Blues will also get to see how their former first round pick David Rundblad looks in the NHL.  The newly acquired defensemen came over from the Sens in a trade and made his first appearance as a ‘Yote last night and recorded an assist and logged almost 15 minutes of ice time.

Previous Meetings:  This is the first meeting this season between the Blues and Coyotes.  Last season Phoenix took 3 of 4, including both home games.  This season Phoenix has struggled at home and is only scoring about a half a goal less at home as opposed to on the road.  Phoenix is 7-7-3 at home while the Blues are just a shade under .500 on the road.

Injury Report:  Blues- Sobotka, Huskins, McDonald, Crombeen

Coyotes- Aucoin, Sauer, Smith

Who’s Hot:  39 year old Ray Whitney still has it.  He has 32 points so far this season and is showing no signs of slowing down.  2 multi points games in a row, 7 his last 5, and 15 in his last 13.  He will be someone the Blues need to keep tabs on all night.

For the Blues, Chris Stewart might finally be breaking out of his shell.  He scored in Colorado Wednesday and recorded 7 shots on goal. If his play can inspire the rest of the second line and get that line to play cohesively then the Blues will be a force to be reckoned with not just in the Central Division but the Western Conference and maybe entire NHL.

Prediction:  Phoenix is going to be hungry for points in a very very tight Pacific Division.  Currently, 3 teams are tied with 39 points with the Kings and Ducks trailing behind the other 3.  They are going to come out firing on all cylinders early to catch the Blues sleeping like the Blue Jackets and Avalanche have been able to do the last 2 games.  The Blues need to focus on playing their game and not letting the Coyotes force them to play their style.  The Blues are going to have to fight for a whole 60 minutes but I think Phoenix is going to pull this one out at home ice 4-3.

Other Notes:  Blues prospect and Colorado College forward, Jaden Schwartz was named captain of the World Junior team for Canada.

Former Blue Keith Tkachuk will be honored in a pre game ceremony as he will be honored by the Coyotes organization before the game.  Glad it’s against the Blues.. LGB


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