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Blues seek to extend unbeaten streak in Toronto

by John Kreiser /

BLUES (20-13-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (14-20-4)

TV -- TSN (HD); FS-Midwest (HD)

Last 10 -- St. Louis 6-4-0; Toronto 4-6-0

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the only time this season. The Blues won 4-0 at home last Feb. 12 in the lone meeting in 2009-10. St. Louis has won the last three games against the Leafs and five of the last six.

Big story -- Both teams are trying to bounce back after disappointing home losses. The Blues were 20 minutes away from a perfect five-game homestand, but couldn't hold off the Dallas Stars in a 4-2 loss. The Leafs started well against Boston on Monday, getting the game's first goal, but that was all they could manage in a 2-1 loss.

Team Scope:

Blues -- Getting eight of 10 points during a five-game homestand wasn't enough for Blues coach Davis Payne, who skated his troops on Monday after St. Louis blew a 2-1 lead the night before and allowed Dallas to score three times for a 4-2 win. With three days off before the trip to Toronto, Payne decided to eschew a day off and give his troops some work.

"We needed to get some work in," Payne told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We didn't play the type of game necessary (on Sunday) for our team to have success and we want to make sure it gets addressed and gets put behind us quickly.

Maple Leafs -- The injury that has sidelined Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been a chance for rookie goalie James Reimer to make an impression -- and he has. Reimer got his first NHL win at Ottawa on Saturday and impressed coach Ron Wilson enough to earn the start against Boston. He didn't get the win, but made a case for more playing time with a solid effort in a 2-1 loss.

"Because he played so well the other night, why not? He gave us a chance to win tonight," Wilson said when asked why Reimer played against the Bruins. "The first goal was screened and the second goal got deflected off of (defenseman Francois) Beauchemin. He made a number of saves and handled himself really well. He's calm and he's a calming effect on the defense as well so far."

Who's hot -- Blues forward David Backes had one of the two goals on Sunday and has 6 points in his last four games. Alex Steen has goals in each of the last two games. … Reimer has stopped 63 of 66 shots in his two starts.

Injury report -- St. Louis has no new injuries, but Andy McDonald and David Perron (concussions), T.J. Oshie (ankle) and Dave Scatchard (knee) are out long-term. … Giguere is nearing a return from a groin injury, and forward Mike Brown (broken finger) is skating again.

Stat pack -- Toronto has turned into one of the Blues' favorite stopovers. St. Louis is unbeaten in its last eight visits to the Air Canada Centre, winning seven and tying one. The last time the Blues left without a win was Feb. 4, 1998, when the Leafs won 3-2. Before the streak, the Blues were just 25-58-11 all-time in Toronto.

Puck drop -- Toronto is 13th in the East, and a big part of the problem is the lack of offensive production from the blue line. Toronto defensemen have scored just eight times, and no one has more than Luke Schenn's two.

Wilson wants more from his blue-line crew.

“They’re not joining the play the way they should be, they coast up the ice,” Wilson said after Tuesday's practice.

“If they moved their feet and got a little more involved in the play as a fourth guy, they might have better results. They have to find a way to get their shots on the net.




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