Hurricanes Record: 8-7-4 (20 pts.)
Blues Record: 12-2-3 (27 pts.)
The Hurricanes headed out late last night for St. Louis, giddy over a rare home shootout win over the mighty Anaheim Ducks. Much has been said about the surprising outcome of the Hurricanes five-game home stand. Few would have expected nine out of ten points, especially missing two top goalies, a top scorer, and facing three formidable Western Conference opponents. The recent wins have moved the Canes back up to third place in the Metro Division standings. While that's all cause for celebration, reality is that the road ahead is tough. The Canes are now in the middle of a three-in-four situation, following up last night's extra inning win with a road game against a tough Blues squad tonight and then back for a home game against the Boston Bruins Monday night. All three teams rank in the top third of the league according to any power rankings report and are not pushovers when it comes to the ability to play a physical game.
The Canes and Blues last met on March 15, 2012, with Cam Ward pitching a 40-save shutout at home for his 200th NHL win. After tonight's game in St. Louis the teams will meet again back in Raleigh in January.
The Blues' 12-3-3 record through 17 games is their best start in franchise history. They are near the top of the league in most statistical categories, and those numbers may even be understated since they've played the fewest games in the NHL to date. They currently have the number one ranked power play (26.2%) and are top three in both goals per game and five-on-five play. They are also good at limiting shots against. Goaltending has been sufficient to keep them rolling.
There's a lesser known Alex the Great, and he's Alexander Steen, and he leads the league in goals (16) despite having only played 17 games. Steen is second behind Sidney Crosby in total points with 24 (compare that to Canes' points leader Eric Staal who just hit double digits last night) and is on a blistering 12-game points streak.
The Blues get substantial scoring help from their defense. Three of their top six points producers are defenseman, and Kevin Shattenkirk has 10 points in his last 10 games.
Brian Elliott will get the start in net tonight for the Blues. Elliott is 2-0-1 for the season with a 2.05 GAA and .925 save percentage, and is 5-4-0 with a 2.50 GAA in ten career games against the Hurricanes.
Injury-wise, Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand) and forward Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) are on injured reserve.
Nice summary of the current state of the Blues from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Blues look stronger, more poised
The Canes aren't scheduled to practice until 11:30 CT today, and the extent of that practice with a late arrival and back-to-back games isn't known. If there are updates and changes to the line-up we'll post them as they become available. Unless there's a significant change in plans, expect Justin Peters to get his tenth straight start in net tonight.
We'll have the open game thread ready to roll at 7:30 pm. See you at the rink.