The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues meet for the fifth and final time this season and it’s safe to say there’s no love left between these two teams.
One of the more physical squads in the Western Conference, the Blues stand between the Avs and furthering their push back into the playoffs, making tonight’s tilt between the two rivals as important as it gets.
“Obviously, this is a big divisional game for us tonight, so it’s important for us to come out strong and have a really good first and show them that we’re here to play,” said Avalanche forward John Mitchell. “They’re a big, physical team, and they like to mix it up and try and get in your head a lot. We don’t want to act too much the same way, but we’ve got to stick up for our teammates and stick up for ourselves out here. Not let them try, just because it’s their home rink, push us around or anything like that.
“We’ve got to bring that physical element to the game and see where it takes us.”
Always a hard-hitting affair, the Avalanche know just what to expect when the pucks drops tonight at Scottrade Center in Missouri.
“It seems like we’ve played them 10 times this year already, and there’s no surprises on either side,” said defenseman Tyson Barrie. “It should be a chess match. It should be a good one, and I’m sure a physical and exciting game to watch as usual.”
“They play hard. We’ve got to match it. They’re a physical team. That’s the kind of hockey they like to play,” added Cody McLeod. “We did that against Tampa. We played hard, and we’re going to expect to play hard tonight.”
The Avalanche is coming off of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, a game in which the Avs skated stride for stride with one of the top clubs in the East. That kind of effort is what Colorado is looking for again tonight as it closes out a five-game road trip.
“For the most part of the trip, I thought we played pretty well. There’d be nothing better than to end it on a win tonight,” said McLeod. “They’re a good team. They’re playing well over there, but it’s a good test for us.”
“This is a chance for us to end this road trip on a real positive note,” Barrie agreed. “I think it will be a successful one if we do win this one. We know this is a big game and we’re excited.”
With four of a possible eight points in hand on the current trip, the Avs know that the final two won’t come without a fight. Something they’re more than prepared for from the Blues.
“This is a tough building to come in and get two points, and we know that. So we’re going to be ready for these guys tonight,” said Barrie.
“We don’t like each other. They don’t like us. We don’t like them. So it’s going to be a good game, a good battle, and we’re looking forward to it tonight,” said McLeod. “We’ve got to do whatever we can to get two points.”
That strategy begins with an overwhelming first period, similar to the start of the second frame in Tampa that saw Colorado tie the game.
“We want to come out and have a real strong first period, and strive to get that first goal,” said Mitchell.
The opening faceoff will be at 6 p.m. MT in St. Louis.
Alex Tanguay—Matt Duchene—Jarome Iginla
Gabriel Landeskog—Ryan O'Reilly—Nathan MacKinnon
Cody McLeod—John Mitchell—Dennis Everberg
Maxime Talbot—Marc-Andre Cliche—Daniel Briere
Jan Hejda—Erik Johnson
Nick Holden—Brad Stuart
Nate Guenin—Tyson Barrie
Scratches: Zach Redmond.