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Jets return home to face Blues

by Mike G. Morreale

BLUES (19-6-3) at JETS (14-13-4)


Last 10: St. Louis 6-4-0; Winnipeg 4-4-2

Season series: This is the third of five games between the teams this season. The Winnipeg Jets won 4-3 in a shootout win at home Oct. 18 and the Blues rebounded with a 3-2 home victory Oct. 29.

Big story: While Blues forward Alexander Steen (20 goals, 32 points) is considered by many to be one of the NHL's first-quarter breakout stars, teammate Jaden Schwartz is emerging as an equally important impact player in his second season. Schwartz has nine points in the past nine games and is tied for sixth on the team with 19 points while averaging 16:09 of ice time. He's tied for the team lead with 23 takeaways and his 53 shots already top last year's total by three in 17 fewer games.

Team Scope:

Blues: St. Louis has struggled recently, dropping three of four games while being outscored 9-1 in the first period in the past four games. The Blues lost 5-2 against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, and coach Ken Hitchcock said he would like his players to "buy in" to the game plan a lot more.

The Blues entered the week 15th in the League with an average of 29.9 shots per game. In the first 20 games they averaged 31.3 per game, but that number has slipped to 26.5 in their past eight.

"When you don't have a mindset of checking, then that affects your competitive level, races for pucks, puck battles, 50/50 pucks," Hitchcock said Saturday. "When your mindset is something other than checking to start with, that affects everything. It's been the same. We went through this last year and it was … a month we went through this where we had to change our attitude towards what was important."

Jets: The Jets concluded a successful six-game run spanning two weeks through the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Winnipeg ended the trip with a 4-2 record, with victories against the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Saturday against the Lightning, Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist, Mark Scheifele scored the game-winner 1:04 into overtime and goalie Al Montoya made 28 saves.

"There's definitely a black and white with our team," Wheeler told the Winnipeg Sun. "When we play well we give ourselves a chance to win every night, and when we don't we don't give ourselves a chance.

"Every time we were knocked down a peg we found a way to get back up. It's a good learning tool for us. But the bigger lesson is no complacency. We can't be satisfied with ourselves or patting ourselves on the back."

Who's hot: Wheeler is on a three-game point streak; he has two goals and four points in that stretch. … The Blues' T.J. Oshie has one goal and seven points in the past seven games.

Injury report: Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand) and forward Ryan Reaves (hand) are on injured reserve. … Winnipeg forward Jim Slater (hernia) and defensemen Paul Postma (leg) and Zach Bogosian (groin) are on injured reserve. Forward Evander Kane (lower body) is questionable.

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