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Struggling Blues ready to host Canucks

by Deborah Francisco
CANUCKS (36-11-9) AT BLUES (24-21-9)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-1-2; St. Louis 3-4-3.

Season Series – The four-game season series between Vancouver and St. Louis is split 1-1 in two games played so far. The Blues edged out the Canucks 3-2 on Dec. 5 at Rogers Arena and Vancouver took the next contest with a 3-1 victory in St. Louis on Dec. 20. Alexander Steen has notched three goals against in two games against Vancouver so far this season. 

Big Story – The League-leading Canucks take on the struggling Blues, who had been the last team to beat Vancouver in regulation on Dec. 5 until the Canucks fell to Anaheim five days ago. Although St. Louis has dropped seven of its last 10, perhaps it can rebound with a performance similar to its Dec. 5 efforts to take the lead in the season series.

Team Scope:

CanucksMikael Samuelsson and Alex Burrows came up big for the Canucks on Saturday in a Hockey Day in Canada tilt against the Calgary Flames. Samuelsson and Burrows each had a pair of goals in the 4-2 victory but Samuelsson had both the game-tying and the game-winning goals.

"Pucks are going in for me now, I had chances before and I didn't bury them, but that's how the season goes … it goes up and down and you just have to stay with it," said Samuelsson, who has 15 goals and two game-winners this year.

Vancouver hardly needed the two points from Saturday's game as it boasts a League-best 81 points on the season. The next closest team is Philadelphia with 77 points and the Canucks have a comfortable seven-point cushion over the Wings, their closest competitor in the West.

Blues – St. Louis fell to the 13th spot in the West with two losses over the weekend to the Minnesota Wild in a home-and-home series against the Western Conference foe. Minnesota dominated play in the scrappy second meeting, a 3-1 loss for St. Louis, on Saturday. Patrick Berglund scored St. Louis' lone goal in that game. The first contest resulted in a 5-4 shootout loss for the Blues.

"Obviously we came away with a result we're not happy with, but it was an old-school battle," said Blues center T.J. Oshie, adding: "It's fun to play in that atmosphere, guys running around hitting. They just got the best of us these two."

St. Louis will have to spring back from the double-loss over the weekend to make up ground in the ultra-tight Western Conference.

Who's hot – Alex Burrows boasts the longest active point streak in the NHL with eight goals and three assists in nine games.

Injury report  – The IR list in Vancouver includes Keith Ballard (knee sprain), Lee Sweatt (foot), Alexander Edler (back) and forward Guillaume Desbiens (hand) while Hamhuis is out indefinitely. … In St. Louis, Carlo Colaiacovo was activated from IR on Friday after missing seven games due to an eye injury. David Perron is still out with a concussion.

Stat PackRoberto Luongo remains unbeaten in regulation since Dec. 5 (16-0-5, GAA 1.90) and the Canucks have earned a point or more in each of his starts in the past two months.

Puck Drop – "We have to understand that success comes from that collective five-man effort. This is not the time of year where you can have any guys off." -- Blues coach Davis Payne

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