DENVER – The Red Wings and St. Louis Blues will meet on Sunday for the fifth and absolute final time as Central Division rivals at Joe Louis Arena.
The game, which will be aired nationally on NBC at 12:30 p.m. EDT, is crucial for both teams in the Western Conference standings. St. Louis has won three consecutive games, after losing three straight, and Detroit is coming off a game that it had to have Friday night when the Wings captured a 3-2 overtime win at Colorado.
The Blues bring two strong special teams into Sunday’s game. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal in five straight games, killing off 13 consecutive penalties during that stretch.
The Blues are one of three teams – Edmonton and Philadelphia being the others – in the top 10 in both power play percentage and penalty kill percentage. St. Louis also leads the league at allowing the fewest number of shots, just over 24 per game.
With only 10 remaining on the schedule, the Red Wings are on the playoff bubble. There’s good news and bad news for the Wings. The good news is they are just three-points away from the No. 4 seed and hosting a first-round playoff series. The bad news? They’re four-points from missing the playoffs altogether.
Sunday’s game is very big as the Blues are just a point behind the Wings in the standings.
Asked Friday night about travel back home and playing a third game in four days, coach Mike Babcock said, “Time change, you got to get back and get adjusted as quick as we can. We're staying over (in Denver) and hopefully guys will get to bed here early and get ready to go. It's a big game for us. St. Louis has got two games in hand, plus we always have fun playing against St. Louis.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
Defense - STL
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 18
SOG: 57 | +/-: -10
D JAY BOUWMEESTER – The Red Wings made a pitch for this 10-year veteran, but at the end of the day, the Blues won the sweepstakes for the 6-foot-4 defensive defenseman. Known more for his penalty kill ability, Bouwmeester has been a pleasant offensive pick-up for the Blues prior to the NHL’s trade deadline last Wednesday. In two games with his new team, the former Flames’ defenseman has three assists and a plus-1 rating. With his addition, the Blues join the Pittsburgh Penguins – with defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin – as the only other team with a pair of defensemen in the top 15 in terms of average ice-time per game. Alex Pietrangelo is the other Blues’ D-man in the top 15. … Four of Bouwmeester’s six goals have been tiebreakers, which shares the league lead among defensemen.
Season Series: 2-1-1
2011-12 Season Series: 4-2-0
All-Time Series Season: 118-109-37-8
St. Louis’s Season Record: 20-14-2
Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: Alexander Steen – 1 Goal, 4 Assists in 4 Games.
Red Wings’ Top Scorer – Henrik Zetterberg – 3 Goals, 3 Assists in 4 Games.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
Tickets to this game and all 4 remaining regular-season contests at The Joe are currently available for purchase at the JLA box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.