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At the Rink: Oilers at Blues

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will go from playing the team that had the fewest points in the Eastern Conference (Carolina Hurricanes) to the fewest in the Western Conference and NHL (Edmonton Oilers) in a span of three days.

After the trouble the Hurricanes gave the Blues (a 5-4 shootout win for St. Louis on Saturday) and with the Oilers playing better since the coaching change from Dallas Eakins to Todd Nelson, the Blues will be mindful of their opponent Tuesday.

The Oilers' 5-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks last Friday certainly caught the Blues' attention.

"If we thought we could take any team lightly, [look] at a Carolina team that's not real high in the standings, maybe we come out a little flat against them," Blues captain David Backes said. "They had us in a 3-1 hole that we had to dig ourselves out of and we'd rather avoid those types of circumstances and just come out with our game, hopefully control the majority of it and see what happens.

"We're working towards bringing our A game every night because that's what we need come playoff time is consistency and bring what we've got to the table no matter who our opponent is, what the series is, where we're at, on the road, at home … bringing that game and see how the opponent responds to that."

It's a chance for the coaches to remind the team not to pay attention to the standings and where the Oilers are.

"People say that stuff. I look at it more from the tendency standpoint," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We have not played our game coming off of long road swings all year. So we've had trouble getting to our game coming off a road trip. I think there's just so much other things in people's lives that it's hard to regain the natural focus that you need. But I think having a couple days here … we had a very good practice today. I think we'll play a lot better."

The Blues will play the third of a season-long seven-game homestand Tuesday and the Oilers, coming off a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, know what to expect.

"They're a very good rush team and they go in transition real quick," Nelson said of the Blues. "We're going to have to manage the puck. We talked about that last game where we weren't executing properly. We have to manage the puck well, force them into playing in their own end. They're a heavy team as well so we're going to have to play stingy defensively. But I think the biggest thing is puck management. If we're able to manage the puck well we'll be able to go on offense where we can create something."

Oilers center Derek Roy, acquired by trade from the Nashville Predators for forward Mark Arcobello, will play in his 700th NHL game Tuesday. Roy, who played last season in St. Louis, has two goals and four assists in seven games with the Oilers.

"I guess 700 is a milestone," Roy said. "That's a lot of games in the League. I've been fortunate enough to play on some good hockey teams and had some fun years.

"I'm here to help out as much as I can offensively and do the things well in the defensive zone and be a leader out there. I'm trying to do that every game. There's room for improvement in my game every day and in our game as a team and we try to get better every day."

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot - Derek Roy - Nail Yakupov

Rob Klinkhammer - Anton Lander - Teddy Purcell

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Luke Gazdic

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Matt Fraser, Keith Aulie

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (spleen)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Martin Brodeur, Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Butler

Injured: Chris Porter (ankle)

Status report: Cole was a healthy scratch the past three games and eight of the past 16 games; he will replace Butler, who was a minus-4 Saturday against the Hurricanes. … Allen will get his first start since Dec. 27; he made 19 saves in relief of Elliott on Saturday. … Gazdic will replace Fraser because Nelson wanted some heavier bodies in the lineup. Gazdic had been a healthy scratch in nine of the previous 11 games. Klinkhammer moves up from the fourth line to the third line.

Who's hot: Steen, Backes and Oshie have combined for 38 points in eight games since Hitchcock reunited the line Dec. 27. Oshie has 21 points in 21 games against the Oilers. … Hall has a four-game point streak and points in six of seven games. He has 12 points in 13 games against St. Louis.

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