“We’ve got to find a way to beat this team,”- Blues center Doug Weight.
The St. Louis Blues will be able to close the gap between themselves and Detroit to 3 points if they can knock off the Central Division leaders on Saturday. Key players are returning at the right moments for the Blues, who will welcome back former captain Chris Pronger, and also hope to see Valeri Bure one the ice for the first time in a Blues uniform. Bure was acquired from the Florida Panthers right before the trading deadline.
The Red Wings are continuing a short road swing that has thus far resulted in a disappointing loss to the lowly San Jose Sharks. They were blanked in the loss to the Sharks by rookie goaltender Vesa Toskala. The spanking knocked the Red Wings back down to second place in the West, and also made for the second time Detroit has been shutout in three games. Thursday’s loss to the Sharks marked the first time Detroit has lost with Captain Steve Yzerman in the lineup. The good news for the Wings is that they have a relatively easy schedule to end the year with. They will take on Nashville, the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Chicago Blackhawks over a span of seven days.
The Blues will be looking for their first win of the year against Detroit, and it’s not like they haven’t had their chances. In their last effort, the Blues were able to even it up with the Red Wings in the third period, but unable to get the go-ahead goal. They ended up falling 4-2, which made for their fourth loss of the season against Detroit. The Blues are currently on pace to face the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs. Both Colorado and St. Louis are tied with 97 points.
D Barret Jackman (St. Louis) vs. LW Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit)- The two frontrunners for the rookie of the year award will both be skating in the same rink on Saturday. Henrik Zetterberg has played spectacularly for the Red Wings this season, while Barret Jackman has logged plenty of important minutes in the absence of veteran defensemen Chris Pronger.
-Out or in Doubt-
St. Louis- Jamal Mayers RW (Knee/Out), Keith Tkachuk LW (Wrist/Out), Martin Rucinski LW (Shoulder/Questionable), Rich Pilon D (Wrist/Out)
Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)
-Between da Pipes-
St. Louis- #30 Chris Osgood (21-15-4, 2.77 GAA, .899 SV%, 4 SO), #35 Brent Johnson (16-12-5, 2.41 GAA, .903 SV%, 2 SO)
Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (32-18-6, 2.52 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)
-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
St. Louis-Two players tied with 4 points. D Barret Jackman (1 goal, 3 assists), LW Cory Stillman (4 assists) vs. Detroit
Detroit- C Sergei Federov with 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) vs. St. Louis
The game will be televised nationally at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC.