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It Don't Come Easy - Blues at Canes Preview

Coach Paul Maurice is hopeful that the upcoming schedule will help increase Carolina's chances to better their mediocre record over the past month. The majority of games played in December were against future playoff teams, while the majority of the opponents in January have losing records. Don't be thinking that these "weak sisters" will roll over and play dead for the Canes though. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The St. Louis Blues are in town to take on the Hurricanes tonight. The Blues have been hit hard by injuries and have lost 9 of their last 11 games, while the Canes are 6-3-3 in their last 12. Carolina beat St. Louis in the team's earlier meeting this year by the score of 1-0 as Tuomo Ruutu scored the contest's only goal and Cam Ward picked up the shutout.

Tonight's game will be the first of a back-to-back for the Canes as they have to travel to Tampa Bay immediately following tonight's affair. Look for Cam Ward to be starter for both games. Ward is 5-2-1 during the past eight games with a 2.20 GAA and .920 SV%.

Anton Babchuk has a two game point streak for the Canes.

Adam has done a scouting report of the Blues for this game and here is what he has to say:

This is definitely not the same Blues team Carolina played and beat 1-0 back on Oct. 30. That St. Louis team featured Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald and Eric Brewer. Now, they — along with the still-hurt Erik Johnson and recently injured Jay McKee — are all on the shelf. The Blues have lost more than 200 man games to injury and that number is growing by the day.

While St. Louis has an enormous amount of young talent — thanks to being a poor team and accumulating high draft picks — the problem is that it is still unproven talent that has not translated into many wins. They are a hard working team but are prone to mistakes and defensive lapses. Up front there is still enough to win games with the likes of Keith Tkachuk, Brad Boyes and rookie phenom Patrick Berglund. But on defense they are mediocre at best, and that is by AHL standards. They are led by Barrett Jackman, but after that coach Andy Murray has to pick his poison, be it Roman Polak, Tyson Strachan, Mike Weaver, Carlo Colaiacovo or Jay Woywitka. All that being said, the Blues win their games with hard work, and for the Hurricanes to come out on top they need to pressure St. Louis' young, vulnerable defense. That means being aggressive on the forecheck and creating turnovers. They also need to create traffic in front of the net as Manny Legace gives up rebounds and can look lost out there at times. No matter how you look at it, it's a game the Canes need to and should win. But don't look the past Blues: they are well coached and all those kids a lot to prove.

Who to watch: Keep your eyes on sophomore David Perron. Last year as a rookie, he put up 27 points (13 goals and 14 assists) in 62 games. He's well on pace to pass that this year, though he only has four goals on 80 shots heading into the game. He reminds me a lot of Martin St. Louis. He's not very big, but has some great moves and plays a feisty type of game. If it goes into a shootout or he gets a breakaway, he has some very creative moves to keep an eye on.

Thank you, and nice work Adam! Perhaps we will make this a regular feature on the blog. Game starts at 7 and it will be broadcast by FS Carolinas.