By Jeremy Clements
(Bethalto, IL) The St. Louis Blues wrap up their six game road trip tonight when they enter the Sharktank in San Jose and while Bluenotes may have a 14 point lead over the Sharks, the game will be anything but easy.
Injuries have plagued the Blues the entire season. As they head into play tonight they will continue to be without four of their best players. Alexander Steen, Matt D’Agostini, and Kris Russell continue to miss ice time while recovering from concussions, and Jamie Langenbrunner is still nursing a broken foot. Steen and D’Agostini are two of the bigger injuries as they are among the top ten goal scorers and both in the top five in terms of plus/minus on the team. In fact, each of the four have are considered plus players.
The injuries aren’t the only thing that could hamper the Blues tonight. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has stopped 44 of 45 shots in back-to-back starts since getting pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots in less than 16 minutes against Nashville last weekend. So they will be going up against one of the hottest netminders in the NHL while their own Brian Elliot has lost three straight, despite only allowing 7 goals during that stretch.
It’s not all bad for the Blues however, who are coming off a tough 2-0 loss to Vancouver. They have killed off 12 straight penalties entering play tonight. San Jose boasts one of the best power plays in the NHL, so the Blues ability to kill off the penalty could prove to be a great asset tonight.
A few individuals have been enjoying success as of late as well. Forward T.J. Oshie had five points in three games prior to Thursday and center Andy McDonald had 4 points in the three games prior to the 2-0 loss to Vancouver. In fact, McDonald has led the Blues in ice time since returning from injury.
The Blues will battle fatigue and the Sharks tonight in the HP Pavilion as they go for the sweep of the season series. If nothing else, the fact that a win would tie them for the lead in the West might give them the strength needed to overcome the tired legs on the ice.
It’s a late start tonight in San Jose; the puck drops at 9:30 CST.
Thanks for reading.