Happy New Year, everyone!
Tonight the Blues face the still-mighty Ducks of Anaheim. As is tradition these last few years, the Ducks are the class of the Pacific Division. They actually lead the entire league, with 54 points and a record of 24-9-6. That includes a home record of 12-4-3, so they definitely know how to work those matchups. In contrast, the Blues find themselves just above .500 on the road, with a record of 9-8-2. This kicks off a 3 game road trip through the Pacific, so it'd be nice to get off on a good start. That'll be quite a challenge, though. The Blues haven't won in Anaheim in over 5 years. Tonight's a good night to end that misery.
The Ducks have just had Corey Perry return to the lineup. Despite missing time to injury (only 23 games played, of his team's 39 so far), he remains second on the team in goals (14), and 4th in overall points (22). He and his linemate Ryan Getzlaf have been producing again this year, as they have for quite some time. Getzlaf leads the team in points at 42 (12 goals, 30 assists). After that, there's a steep drop to Ryan Kesler with 27 points (12g, 15a) and Sami Vatanen with 24 (9g, 15a). Then Perry, and the top 5 is rounded out with goals-leader Matt Beleskey with 15 goals and 4 assists for 19 points. Really, though, all I really care about is St Louis product Pat Maroon. I hope he has an outstanding season, but notsomuch tonight.
The Ducks are coming off of a 3-0 loss to San Jose on Wednesday. In that loss, they allowed the Sharks to have 8 power play opportunities, although they only gave up one PPG. You can probably expect them to be a little more disciplined this go around. Hopefully, the Blues can match that, and stay out of the box themselves. That loss was only the second time that the Ducks have been shutout all season. The only other time was 10/30, when the Ducks lost 2-0 to the St Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center. Those Blues were missing David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Paul Stastny and Joakim Lindstrom that night, and were still able to help Jake Allen keep the Ducks off of the scoreboard.
Those players are back now, of course. Additionally, it looks like Carl Gunnarsson is about ready to return to the lineup. He's with the team, and may even play tonight. Better yet, Jaden Schwartz is now listed as day-to-day, and is also traveling with the team. He may return sometime during this road trip as well. If there's a need, we may also see the season debut of Colin Fraser and John McCarthy, who have just been called up from Chicago. If anyone is scratched for those guys to play, that should serve as a hell of a wake up call.
According to the beats, the net assignments will be Martin Brodeur for this game, and Brian Elliott will wait one more night to play against the Sharks. That makes me wonder when we'll see Jake Allen again. As for the Ducks, nothing's confirmed but the expected starter is Frederik Andersen. Andersen has gone 20-5-5 with 2.29 GAA and a .916 Sv%.
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Final Verse: A late start tonight, as the puck drops at 9:00 PM St Louis time. The GameDay Thread should drop shortly beforehand. The TV broadcast is on FoxSports MW, and the radio call is on KMOX 1120 AM. It's the weekend, so staying up late is not a problem. This also gives you a chance to drink the leftover booze from your New Year's Eve celebration. Get to it, and please join us later tonight. Pat Maroon wears #19 now, but here he is scoring his first NHL goal in February 2013.