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Divisional Game Presents Opportunity for Blues

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Blues will host the Minnesota Wild tonight at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center in another one of those “four-point swing” divisional games.

The Blues have an 11-point lead on the Wild in the Central Division standings and can put even more distance between them with a win tonight.

Minnesota, who has fallen out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, has lost four straight games and have just one win in their last 10 (1-8-1), so the opportunity is ripe for the Blues to get back on track. But, they know it won’t be easy.

“We all know when you’re struggling, you get more hungry and you want to get to the winning side even more,” Blues forward Magnus Paajarvi said. “They’re going to come out swinging, that’s for sure.”

“I don’t think we can fall into the trap of thinking they’re just going to roll over for us,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk added. “They seem to play a very patient and almost boring game against us, but it works. We want to make sure they don’t come in here feeling like we’re a team they’ve had success against and can get right back in the swing of things by getting a win against us. If we can apply pressure early and get on the right side of things, that will hopefully discourage them and we can be able to take over the rest of the game.”

The Blues trail the season series with Minnesota: The Wild won 3-2 on Oct. 10, the Blues earned a 3-2 OT win on Oct. 31, and the Wild took the most recent meeting 3-1 at Scottrade Center on Dec. 31.

Tonight, the Blues will focus on getting back on track offensively. The club has scored just five goals in the last five games.

“When anything isn’t going well, it’s usually going back to the fundamentals of how you have success. Every element in the game works that way,” Blues Associate Coach Brad Shaw said. “I think scoring is no different. You need more pucks there, more screens, more Grade-A quality chances. We need the right guys with the puck, in the right spot on the ice with the right amount of time. We have to get there with more energy in our legs, with more intent to win battles at the net.”

PROJECTED LINES

Today’s morning skate was optional, but if yesterday’s practice was any indication, tonight’s lineup might look something like this:

Forwards

Patrik Berglund - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Scottie Upshall - Alexander Steen - David Backes

Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Troy Brouwer

Magnus Paajarvi - Kyle Brodziak - Dmitrij Jaskin

Defense

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko

Goalie

Brian Elliott

BLUE NOTES

Vladimir Tarasenko has four goals in his last five games against the Wild.

Tonight will be Magnus Paajarvi’s 100th career game with the Blues.

Fans will have access to complimentary hot chocolate beginning at 5:30 p.m. outside Scottrade Center before the game. Hot chocolate is being provided by the St. Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association, Levy Restaurants and Tim Hortons.

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