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GAME DAY: vs. St. Louis

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

  Columbus Blue Jackets vs. St. Louis Blues
RECORDS - CBJ: 16-34-6 (Home: 9-15-3), STL: 34-14-7 (Road: 10-11-3)
WHEN: Feb. 14, 2012 - 7 p.m.   |   WHERE: Nationwide Arena

FOX Sports Ohio (HD)  |  LISTEN: CD102.5 FM &



The story of the National Hockey League this year is easily the St. Louis Blues, a team that decided to make a coaching change at 6-7-0 and has since skyrocketed up the Western Conference standings. As things currently stand, the Blues are in position to challenge the Detroit Red Wings for the Central Division crown – something few clubs can lay claim to over the past two decades.

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock is already being mentioned as a strong candidate for the Jack Adams Trophy awarded the top coach in the NHL, but his team has a lot of work left to do in order to finish what they’ve started since he took over. St. Louis comes into tonight’s game vs. the Blue Jackets having won five of its past six games and riding the shoulders of a red-hot Jaroslav Halak in net. Halak registered a shutout in his last start (Sunday vs. San Jose) and is likely to start tonight at Nationwide Arena.

As the NHL trade deadline approaches at the end of the month, many around the league have wondered what kind of player may fit into the Blues’ needs as they gear up for the Stanley Cup playoffs. GM Doug Armstrong’s track record from his days in Dallas suggest he isn’t prone to significant trades, but he may have received the biggest boost when David Perron returned from a concussion Dec. 3 vs. Chicago. The 23-year-old Perron has four goals and seven points in the last four games, and has tallied three of the Blues’ four power-play goals in the last two contests.

The Blues got more good news on the Blues injury front as center Andy McDonald returned from a concussion of his own on Sunday. Acquired by the Blues in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks back in 2007, the 34-year-old center has played more than 58 games in a season just once since arriving in St. Louis. Concussion issues have hindered his effectiveness in recent years, but he recorded an assist during his first game back.

The Blues hope McDonald can get back to the dangerous offensive pivot he’s shown he can be, averaging close to 20 goals per season during his Blues career.

Nash (18) Backes (16)
Prospal (25) Backes (25)
Nash (39) Backes (41)
Dorsett (139) Backes (81)
MacKenzie (+5) Steen/Shattenkirk (+20)
Sanford (10-13-4)
Elliott (18-5-2)
Sanford (2.52) Elliott (1.63)
Sanford (.915) Elliott  (.939)
• Tonight’s game will close out a stretch for Columbus that has the club playing five games in the span of eight days. The club has won three of the last five games after going winless the previous six outings (0-5-1). The Blue Jackets are 3-4-0 the last seven home games after going 0-5-2 the previous seven at Nationwide Arena.

Rick Nash has points in five-straight games after registering an assist Sunday against Anaheim. He had two assists the night before at Minnesota, his first multi-assist game since Dec. 22 at Nashville, a span of 20 games. He has 1-5-6 during his streak, while collecting 5-7-12 the last 17 games and 14-13-27 the last 38 games.

• Tonight marks the third of six meetings overall and second of three meetings at Nationwide Arena this season between the Blue Jackets and Blues. Columbus is 23-29-13 all-time against St. Louis, including a 15-11-6 mark at Nationwide Arena. The Blues have won five-straight meetings.

Vinny Prospal has points in five of the last six games (1-4-5) after being held pointless the previous nine games. He leads the club in assists, ranks second in points and is third in goals. He signed a one-year contract extension through the 2012-13 season on Feb. 8.


LW - #57
  10 GOALS

• Perron is one of the better comeback stories in the NHL this year after missing the start of the year and most of the previous year with a severe concussion. He’s been a welcome addition back to the Blues lineup and has provided a jolt to their struggling power play.

D Radek Martinek (concussion); out for the season
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely
C Mark Letestu (hand); indefinitely
D Nikita Nikitin (lower body); indefinitely
D Brett Lebda (hand); week-to-week
D Marc Methot (jaw); indefinitely
RW Jared Boll (foot); week-to-week

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