Coyotes At Blues Game Preview: Just Another Western Conference Heavyweight Battle

This happens a lot against Phoenix. - Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Can Eastern Conference teams even have heavyweight battles anymore? If the conferences were the NES Hockey players, the West'd be the fat one plowing over the East's skinny li'l guy.

The Blues are off to one of the best starts in franchise history, going 11-2-2. Unfortunately for those of you who expected to see the Blues sitting pretty at or near the top of the Western Conference standings by this point in the season, the rest of this half of the NHL is also off to a hot start (unless you're Calgary, Edmonton, or Winnipeg). Four teams in the West have lost but two games, and the Blues have played fewer games than all of those teams. Phoenix is not one of those teams, but their 12-4-2 mark through 18 games is still impressive, and just as good as every team in the Eastern Conference.

It says a lot that these two teams are third and second in their respective divisions. The West is tough. Phoenix will be a challenge. The Blues are going to have to up their game like they did on Saturday evening against the Pittsburgh Penguins if they'd like to take out the Coyotes at home again. The Blues have won three games in a row against Phoenix at Scottrade, including a 4-0 shutout in March and a 2-1 shootout victory in April.

Tonight a win like that might require the defense to be in rare form. Thank goodness the Blues' 7th defenseman, Ian Cole, is really a top six kind of guy. Jordan Leopold will be out for a while, so it's time to dust Cole off and put him out there. Brenden Morrow will be returning tonight as well, so there's that. The line-up will be a tiny bit different, but the game plan will be the same.

Chris Stewart likes the Coyotes. He had a + 6 rating against them last season and seven points (three goals, four assists). Could tonight see Stewart have a breakout evening to go with his increasingly solid play? It'd be a nice reward. The quiet-so-far this season Patrik Berglund also could have a big night - in the Blues' last six games against Phoenix, he has five goals.

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