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Wings At Blues Preview: Defensive Awareness Needs To Be Sharper For St. Louis

A couple lapses in under a minute forced overtime on Thursday. The Wings won't be as kind as the Sabres were.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues and Detroit Red Wings have enjoyed a long rivalry, though a lopsided one much like the rivalry between the Blues and Blackhawks. The Wings' relocation to the Eastern Conference means that the Blues don't get to see them as much, but it doesn't mean that the rivalry is dead. These are two teams who have never liked each other, and never will.

Which means that tonight's game should be a fun one.

It's certain that Jeremy Welsh will not be playing tonight, as the Blues have re-assigned him to the Chicago Wolves. It's more uncertain that Colton Parayko will be missing his third straight game. He did participate in practice this morning.

His absence tonight on the blue-line against Detroit would be felt significantly, especially as far as offense goes. The Red Wings, while still their usual defensively-sound selves, have been having issues scoring goals. They average just 2.25 goals per game, good for 26th in the league. It's obviously a no-brainer to jump out in front of a team early and score more goals than they do, but a solid early effort could make it difficult for the Red Wings to come back. A weak first or second period against Detroit, however, could give the Wings breathing room that the Blues would rather not give them.

Keep an eye on rookie Teemu Pulkkinen. He's been playing with Brad Richards and Pavel Datsyuk, and other than dropping the average age of that line, he's also on-pace for a 20 goal season in his first full year with the Red Wings. So far this season he has five goals and three assists.

Neither team has been dominant in the face-off circle (the Wings' FO% is 48.2%, the Blues' 49.5%), and both teams would prefer their power plays to be more potent. The Blues' power play has been steadily improving since the return of Kevin Shattenkirk; giving the Blues too many man advantages could prove a challenge for Detroit's eighth ranked penalty kill.

If the Blues step up their game, tonight should be another close one between them and the Red Wings. Here's hoping it's not another overtime loss.