ST. LOUIS - It’s the last game before the NHL All-Star break, but don’t tell the St. Louis Blues.
“We’ve got one task to finish before we get there, and that’s get two points tonight against Colorado,” Blues captain David Backes said. “We’ve seen they can lay it on us if we don’t bring our A-game. Before the last break we had for Christmas, we played them and it wasn’t very pretty. So maybe you (media) guys can stop talking about a break and start talking about the game tonight and we’ll stay focused on it and get two points.
“You can call me (tomorrow) and we’ll talk about the break all you want.”
The game before Christmas that Backes is referencing is a 5-0 loss to the Avalanche on Dec. 23. The Blues bounced back with a 3-0 win on Dec. 29 against Colorado, but they certainly don’t want to repeat the mistake of looking ahead to the break.
“I think we need a great game tonight against a team that’s playing very well, a team in our division that we’d like to keep down there below us if we can,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “(The break) gives us a chance to recharge and get ready for what looks like a tough February and March.
“These are two points we don’t want to let get away from us,” Shattenkirk added. “We remember what they did to us right before Christmas in their barn… We won’t be falling into that trap again. Tonight, we’ll be ready to play.”
The Blues host an Avalanche team that has points in five of their last six games. Colorado is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss on Saturday in Tampa Bay. Nathan MacKinnon scored with seven seconds left in regulation to earn a point for Colorado, who is 19-17-10 and currently seventh in the Central Division.
Alex Tanguay leads Colorado with 31 points in 44 games, while Jarome Iginla is a close second with 30 points.
“They’re a good team, they’ve got a great spirit. They play hard…they make you earn it,” said Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. “It seems one team gets the other team on their heels and it can’t get back up off the mat. They’re playing really well right now, this is the best I’ve seen them play.
“We’re going to get their A-game and hopefully we give them ours.”
BACKES MOVES UP
Backes is set to appear in his 613th game tonight as a Blue, which would tie him with Hall of Famer Al MacInnis for eighth on the Blues’ all-time franchise list.
The Blues captain has a six-game point streak (seven goals, six assists), tying a career-high for the third time. Backes also leads all current Blues with 24 career points (10 goals, 14 assists) vs. Colorado (33 games).
The Blues are 4-0-1 on their season-long seven-game home stand so far. After tonight, the Blues will host the Nashville Predators on Jan. 29 before going back on the road for two games.
Paul Stastny, who played 538 games with the Avalanche, had two assists in the last meeting between the teams. Stastny ranks eighth in Colorado franchise history in games played.
After passing Pat Quinn for fifth on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list on Saturday, Ken Hitchcock could tie Brian Sutter for second on the all-time Blues list with a win tonight (153).
Alexander Steen has a nine game point streak (seven goals, nine assists). According to Elias, Steen is the first Blues player to record a point streak of at least nine games in consecutive seasons since Pavol Demitra, Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight accomplished the feat in 2002-03, 2003-04.
Shattenkirk shares the lead with Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano in points for defensemen (39 points). Shattenkirk leads the entire League with 24 power-play points. Shattenkirk and Colorado’s Erik Johnson were part of a trade between the Blues and the Avalanche in Feb. 2011. Both have been named to the 2015 NHL All-Star game.