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Surging Blues continue homestand against Avalanche

by Louie Korac /

AVALANCHE (19-17-10) at BLUES (28-13-4)


ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues know that after their game Monday against the Colorado Avalanche [8 p.m. ET, NBCSN], they won't play another game until Jan. 29 following the All-Star break.

The Blues (28-13-4) remember the last time they played the Avalanche (19-17-10) before a break. It was their last game before Christmas, and Colorado thoroughly dominated a 5-0 victory at Pepsi Center, leaving that nasty feeling of arguably the Blues' worst loss of the season for four days.

"We don't want to fall into that trap again," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "A game that we really just let get away from us and I think it's a lesson learned hopefully tonight when we go out there and we remember what that felt like. It was pretty embarrassing to get trounced like that. We especially don't want that to happen in our building."

The Blues are 4-0-1 during a seven-game homestand and said they are focused more on the task at hand than getting a week off before resuming practice on Jan. 26.

"It doesn't matter if (the break) is good timing or bad timing," captain David Backes said. "We've got one task to finish before we get there, and that's a good two points tonight against Colorado. We've seen that they can lay it on us if we don't bring our 'A' game.

"Before the last break we had for Christmas, we played them and it wasn't very pretty. Maybe you guys can stop talking about a break and talk about the game tonight, stay focused on it, get two points and then you can call me about the break all you want."

The Avalanche will wrap up a five-game trip before heading home to face the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, and then they'll get their break. They are 1-1-2 so far.

"If we get this one, we're over .500 for the trip," right wing Jarome Iginla said. "It'll give us a shot to go back home and keep building that momentum and keep climbing. A lot goes on this game.

"We were fortunate in the last game (against the Tampa Bay Lightning) to get that point, which kind of keeps you moving. You just keep chipping away."

The Avalanche are 10-4-4 in the past 18 games to get themselves right back in the thick of the wild card race in the Western Conference.

"The last 18 games have been very good," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "... We've been playing well, we've been scoring, and we've been playing really well defensively. Our goalies have been outstanding as well and offensively, we'd like to score more goals, but I just feel like we're starting to do some things that will pay off at some point."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Tanguay - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Nathan MacKinnon

Maxime Talbot - Marc-Andre Cliche - Daniel Briere

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Dennis Everberg

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Zach Redmond

Injured: Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jamie McGinn (back), Patrick Bordeleau (knee), Jesse Winchester (concussion), Borna Rendulic (broken leg)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Patrik Berglund - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Dmitrij Jaskin

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Martin Brodeur, Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Butler

Injured: Chris Porter (ankle)

Status report: Hitchcock switched Schwartz and Berglund during line rushes on Monday and said that he wanted to "experiment" with it. He said it wasn't set that it will stay that way but they will likely start that way. ... Jaskin will replace Lindstrom in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games.

Who's hot: Steen has a nine-game point streak (seven goals, nine assists), the longest by a Blue this season. Backes is on a six-game point streak (seven goals, six assists). ... Iginla has 73 points (29 goals, 44 assists) in 68 games against St. Louis. ... Varlamov has a 6-5-2 record against the Blues but has a 1.85 career goals-against average and .942 save percentage.

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