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Blues Battle Illness, Canucks Tonight

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
ST. LOUIS - The Blues will face the Vancouver Canucks tonight at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center. That part at least, is certain.

What’s not certain is which players will be wearing the Blue Note as several are battling an illness that’s been going around the team since the weekend.

“We’ll dress 20 and we’ll let you know who they are,” Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said after the morning skate. “We’ll figure it out once we get to the game and see who can play and who can’t.”

Regardless of who suits up, the Blues face a Canucks team that has given them trouble as of late. Vancouver won all three meetings between the clubs last season, although each game was decided by one goal.

“We’ve played some of our best hockey in Vancouver and not gotten out of it, whether it’s the goaltending or lack of offense or whatever,” Hitchcock said. “They play us hard…(Tonight’s) going to be two really good teams going at each other playing a similar style of offense and a similar style of defense. It will be just as competitive, and hopefully we get on the right side of those one-goal games.

“We’ve played some of our best hockey against Vancouver.”

The Canucks started the season with three consecutive wins but have now lost two straight (4-2 to Tampa Bay on Oct. 18 and 6-3 to Dallas on Oct. 21). Daniel Sedin leads the team with eight points (one goal, seven assists) and has his brother, Henrik, a close second with seven points (two goals, five assists).

“They’re guys that if you give them space and time, they’re going to make plays,” defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said of the Sedins. “That’s the main focus. Just try to play with the puck and don’t give them time. They just sort of have a knack, everyone talks about it, they know where each other is all the time.”

T.J. Oshie added the Canucks are always a tough team to play against.

“It seems like the teams dislike each other a little bit,” Oshie said. “It’s almost like a little bit of a rivalry game even though we don’t play them as much as we used to. It will be fun tonight, it’ll be a battle, it always is.

“We need to bring our best game.”

ALLEN VS. MILLER

Jake Allen will start in goal tonight for the Blues. Allen turned away 24 of 25 shots in his season debut last Saturday, a 6-1 win in Arizona.

“He played really well,” Hitchcock said. “He deserves to keep being a member of the team. We’re going to stay on rhythm here and he’s going to get those periodical starts, but they’re going to be on a consistent basis.”

Across the way, Ryan Miller is expected to start for Vancouver and will return to Scottrade Center for the first time since joining the Canucks as a free agent in the summer.

“There are games as a competitor you want to play,” Miller told reporters yesterday. “I was there for a brief time but got to know a lot of the guys pretty well. I didn’t get to play against Buffalo last year, so this is my first chance to go back and play against a group of guys instead of individual players here and there that I used to play with. So it should be interesting.”

Miller was 10-8-1 in the regular season last year as a Blue.

BLUE NOTES

Since joining the Blues, Alexander Steen has more goals against the Canucks (8) than any other player on the club since 2009-10.

Ryan Reaves is set to appear in his 200th NHL game tonight.

The Blues have earned points in five straight home games against the Canucks, going 3-0-2 in those games. Six of the last seven meetings at Scottrade Center have been one-goal games.

On this day in 1997, Al MacInnis played in his 1,000th NHL game in a Blues’ 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blues are helping raise money for United Way at tonight’s game. Volunteers will be selling raffle tickets on the concourse for great Blues prizes and a silent auction will be held outside Section 119 to benefit United Way. In addition, fans can purchase mystery envelopes while supplies last outside Section 119. Envelopes include either tickets to an upcoming game, autographed merchandise or a Blues in-game experience.

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