Just because the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings are no longer in the same division doesn't mean they'll be any less intense when they meet at Joe Louis Arena in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).
The Blues will be trying for a perfect five-game road trip and have looked like a new team under Mike Yeo. The Red Wings have been inconsistent and can't afford to keep dropping points if they hope to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 26th consecutive season.
With a lot on the line for each team, here are 5 reasons to tune in:
St. Louis has been a different team since Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock Feb. 1 after their fifth loss in six games. The Blues have won five of six under Yeo, including four in a row on the road last week, a stretch in which they outscored opponents 14-3. The most notable improvement has been in goal, where Jake Allen has gone 4-1-0 and allowed seven goals in five games. Allen was 0-4-0 in his last four decisions under Hitchcock, allowing 14 goals. The surge has carried the Blues into third place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Nashville Predators.
Video: STL@MTL: Allen makes back-to-back saves in front
Tarasenko continues to be one of the NHL's most exciting and productive players. He's on pace for 38 goals and a career-high 77 points, and he's one of those players that opponents have to account for. Tarasenko has four goals in six games since the coaching change, including a spectacular overtime goal that gave the Blues a 2-1 road win against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Thursday. Few players are more fun to watch, and the Red Wings can't give him any room.
Video: STL@TOR: Tarasenko shows off hands, nets OT winner
One of the bright spots for the Red Wings has been the play of Athanasiou, a 22-year-old forward who is among the fastest players in the NHL. That speed has helped him score 14 goals in 41 games, tying him with Thomas Vanek for the most on the team, and he has three goals in his past three games. Athanasiou's goal total is impressive because he's 14th on the team in power-play time and has scored 13 goals at even strength. The Red Wings are doing their best not to have Athanasiou do more than he's capable of; he's averaging 13:12, 12th among forwards.
Video: DET@MIN: Athanasiou plays carom, scores five-hole
Red Wings streak
Time is starting to run out on the Red Wings' hopes of extending their streak of qualifying for the postseason. Detroit has lost three in a row and is last in the Eastern Conference at 22-24-10. With seven teams between the Red Wings and the final playoff spot in the East, this is a game they can't afford to lose.
Saying goodbye to the Joe
The Blues come to Joe Louis Arena for the 111th and final time during the regular season; the Red Wings are moving into their new home, Little Caesars Arena, in 2017-18. The Blues were the opposition when the Red Wings opened Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 27, 1979, spoiling the festivities by winning 3-2. St. Louis won its first four visits but the Red Wings are 57-37-4-12 against the Blues in the regular season and 14-7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.