BRUINS (10-8-4) at BLUES (8-8-4)
Last 10 --
Boston 4-3-3; St. Louis 3-4-3
Season series --
Each team won on the other's home ice last year, but the larger trend has the Blues dominating over the years, holding a 13-2-0 record with two ties since the 1996-97 season, including wins in eight of the last nine, although six of those have come after regulation.
Big story --
Both teams find themselves in a similar situation, fighting perceptions that they have underachieved so far given their talent level. They've both recorded consecutive wins over the weekend for only the second time this season, the B's picking up wins in Buffalo and Atlanta while the Blues beat Phoenix and the Islanders at home.
It's been a season of one step forward and one step back for the B's thus far, but it looks like they're ready to take a bigger leap forward lately, getting points in seven of their last eight games (4-1-3) and looking to go 3-0 on their current trip.
Part of that has to do with the team steadily returning to full strength. Milan Lucic
returned Thursday from a broken finger and although not at full strength yet, his presence has helped open things up a bit offensively. The big prize, however, will be the return of Marc Savard
, who could really help get the offense back in sync.
He'll most likely be centering a line with Marco Sturm and Byron Bitz.
"I like it," he told the Bruins' official Web site. "I've been watching Bitzy this last little while and he looks great out there. So, I am excited and … hopefully it works out.
"I feel good out there and when you go back in you want to be able to do what you did before."
It's been a while, 18 games to be exact, since the Blues had back-to-back wins, which mystified Islanders coach Scott Gordon among others.
"I can't believe (the Blues) are just .500," Gordon said after the Blues beat his team 4-1 Saturday night. "That just blows my mind with the talent they have."
scored twice in that game, increasing his team-leading total to nine, six shy of his career high. One came on a highlight-reel between-the-legs move that wowed both benches.
"That's Perry's dangling skills," Patrik Berglund
said. "He shows that every day at practice and finally he got a hot goal like that."
Injury report --
With the return of Savard, the Bruins will have the full varsity together for the first time this season, although Tim Thomas
has been nursing a minor undisclosed injury and may be given more time off. Tuukka Rask
has filled in admirably with a pair of wins.
Blues left winger D.J. King (right hand) is still on schedule for a December return.
Stat Pack --
After finishing fifth in the NHL last season with a 23.5 percent power-play conversion rate, the Blues' precipitous drop to a League-worst 12.7 percent has people scratching their heads in St. Louis. Fortunately for them, they're third in penalty killing at 84.9 percent.
Puck drop --
It will be an intriguing matchup as two talented teams look to turn a corner and see how good they can really be after slow starts.