[Note: I think it's too bad that one of the best teams in the league is currently without a blogger. Therefore, I took it upon myself to preview the Blues upcoming game. If you do not like it, feel free to let me know in the comments section and I will not post anymore. Thanks for reading]
On Saturday night the St. Louis Blues (21-6-3) will travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets (14-15-3). This game is at 6:00pm central time and will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest. The Blues are second in the Central Division looking to draw two points closer to the division leading Chicago Blackhawks.
Last season, the Blues and Blue Jackets were Central Division foes. This game is the first meeting between the two teams since the Blue Jackets moved to the Eastern Conference. Last season, the Blues won three of the four meetings between these two teams.
The Blues are coming off of a pair of victories. The first was against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday in which Kevin Shattenkirk broke a 1-1 tie with 3:02 remaining in regulation. The second came Thursday night against the Maple Leafs. The Blues dominated the first period, going up 3-0, and were able to keep the Leafs at a distance for the rest of the game.
Despite their record, the Blue Jackets are not a team to be overlooked. They have won four out of their last five games and are averaging three goals per game in that span. Their back up goaltender, Curtis McElhinney, has stepped up in the absence of reigning Vezina trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky. However, McElhinney left the game with a lower body injury on Thursday night and third-string goaltender Mike McKenna played the last two periods. McKenna will start on Saturday night.
Players To Watch: Ryan Johansen, C (CBJ) and Jaden Schwartz, LW (STL)
These two 2010 first round draft picks are in the midst of break out seasons. Johansen was picked fourth overall and is on a seven game point streak. He has 25 points in 32 games and is becoming the center that everyone thought he would be on draft day 2010. Schwartz was drafted 10 picks after Johansen (14th overall) and has 12 points in his last 11 games. He was the first star in the Blues victory over the Maple Leafs, tallying one goal and two assists.
Goalie Match Up: Mike McKenna (CBJ) vs. Jaroslav Halak (STL)
Mike McKenna has only played in 18 NHL games in his career. However, he is 30 years old and has quite a bit of experience in the AHL. His lifetime NHL save percentage is .890 and his lifetime NHL goals against average is 3.41. In his relief appearance on Thursday night he played well, only allowing one goal in two periods.
Jaroslav Halak's record this season is 15-5-2 with a save percentage of .910 and a goals against average of 2.24. Halak is coming off of a lackluster performance against Anaheim on December 7th in which he was pulled only 7:29 into the game. Halak will be eager to redeem himself after watching Brian Elliott win the last two games.
Projected Blues Line-Up:
Backes - Steen - Oshie
Schwartz - Sobotka - Stewart
Roy - Berglund - Tarasenko
Morrow - Lapierre - Cracknell
Pietrangelo - Bouwmeester
Jackman - Shattenkirk
Cole - Polak
Scratches: Jordan Leopold, Magnus Paajarvi, Ryan Reaves, Carlo Colaiacovo, Chris Porter