The St. Louis Blues embarrassed the Detroit Red Wings on the opening night of the 2013 season, capitalizing on defensive mistakes and standing tall in their own end on their way to a 6-0 victory. The blues have continued on a hot streak since, dropping just one game, while the Red Wings have recovered from their rough start and now hold a 3-2-1 record. With the Central Division race shaping up to be a tight one again this season, tonight’s matchup becomes even more important.
If the Red Wings want to win Friday, the first thing they need to do is stop Vladimir Tarasenko, The Russian rookie made Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey look silly not once, but twice in the season opener. The team has added Kent Huskins and have done a great job blocking shots in their last two games. Tarasenko has cooled since his hot start, but the team continues to get additional scoring help from T.J. Oshie, Chris Stewart, David Perron and even defenseman Wade Redden.
The Red Wings power play continues to struggle, and they need to make the most of their man-advantage chances if they hope to beat the Blues. St. Louis’ penalty kill ranks 20th in the league, one of their few weaknesses. Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner will all see a lot of time on the power play, and need to keep putting the puck in the net if the team is going to win. The Detroit penalty kill will also need to be strong, as the Blues are the third most potent team on the power play.
Jaroslav Halak got the shutout for the Blues the last time these two teams met, and Jimmy Howard had his worst outing of the season. Howard has steadied his play since, and will make his seventh straight start Friday night. The Blues haven’t played since Sunday, so there should be no reason why a well-rested Halak will get the start. After Friday, the division rivals will meet three more times this season. If the Red Wings want to show they have really turned the corner and will be able to make something of this season, a strong performance against the Blues will be a great start.