Philadelphia Flyers (26-13-9, 61 pts) at St. Louis Blues (19-24-4, 42 pts)
Scottrade Center - 8:30 PM EST - St. Louis, MO
TV: CW57 (HD?), Fox Sports Midwest HD
Radio: 94.1 WYSP FM, XM 208
Check Here for Internet Streams
Behind Enemy Lines: St. Louis Game Time
What To Watch For: The Blues? They're a hockey team?
Seriously, it's hard to get up for a game when the team you're playing is a) the worst team in the Western Conference and b) a team you play once every nineteen years. The Flyers and Blues haven't met since February of 2007 and they haven't played a game in St. Louis since 2005. Crazy.
But let's hope the Flyers do get up for this one, because it's very similar to last night. There can be no looking ahead to Boston tonight, even though we all want to. They need to take care of business against the teams they should be beating, just like they did against Tampa.
The penalties have to stop. St. Louis, for all of their flaws, are a quality power play team -- ranked seventh in the NHL and converting at 22 percent. They take a lot of penalties though, too. Compared to the Flyers, who take 18.7 PIM a game, St. Louis takes 16.2. The Flyers lead the league and the Blues are fourth.
St. Louis is coming off of a 3-1 loss to the lowly Ottawa Senators, but before that they took two impressive wins on the road against Chicago and Boston. That's right. Chicago and Boston.
The Blues cannot be overlooked. They're led by leading scorer Brad Boyes, who has 20 goals and 17 assists on the season. Keith Tkachuk, Patrik Berglund, and David Backes are also scoring threats.
They're also ridiculously injured though. List time:
- Roman Polak, D, broken foot
Yan Stastny, C, broken finger
Eric Brewer, D, back
Andy MacDonald, C, leg
Paul Kariya, LW, hip surgery
Eric Johnson, D, torn ACL/MCL
Yeah, that'll hurt your chances at success for damn sure. Philly also owns the Blues. How's 8-1 since 2000 sound? (come to think of it, I think I was at the one loss. check: yup, I was) Five straight wins in St. Louis. The Flyers have outscored the Blues 39-19 in that time. It's like Niittymaki-on-Atlanta ownage.
It looks good for the Flyers, but I'm sure it did for Boston on the 19th too.
Between the Pipes: Both goalies are kind of up in the air right now. For the Flyers, if you ask me, Niittymaki deserves to play after his performance last night. Ride the hot goalie, as they say. But, with that said, if I were betting money I'd put it on Biron. Stevens uses the logic that, since the Flyers are off until Wednesday after today, sitting Biron would be keeping him out of action for too long. We'll see in a few hours, I guess.
UPDATE: Antero Niittymaki will go for the Flyers tonight. I was (happily) wrong.
For the Blues, I'm just not sure. It could be Chris Mason or Manny Legace -- they basically share the workload. Legace has played in 28 games this season, compiling a 3.21 GAA and a .888 save percentage. Weak. Mason has done a tad bit better, but don't ask for any trophies, Chris. In 22 games, Mason has a 2.94 GAA and a .905 save percentage. While Mason's numbers are better, the team sucks when he plays. He's got a record of 5-14-1, while Legace is 13-9-2. Strange.
Questions To Answer
1. Do the Flyers focus on St. Louis or do they play like they're looking ahead to Boston?
2. The Flyers lead the league with 52 fights, but St. Louis isn't far behind with 43 (fourth in the NHL). Cam Janssen is the Blues leading tough guy. Former teammate of Aaron Asham. Sounds like a fight to me?
3. Mike Richards broke out of a little slump last night with three big points. What's he do for an encore?
A look at the playoff race after the jump...
Playoff Chase: It's Saturday, and that means it's a busy night/afternoon in the NHL. The standings prior to today's games are below, along with a list of the games that have implications on the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Devils are the only inactive team that's currently in the playoff picture. The teams you should be cheering for are in bold.
Detroit at (3) Washington, 12:30 PM ET -- XM 206
(4) NY Rangers at (1) Boston, 1:00 PM ET -- XM 207
Los Angeles at (6) Montreal, 2:00 PM ET -- XM 208
(9) Pittsburgh at (11) Toronto, 7:00 PM ET -- NHL Network HD, XM 204
(8) Florida at (15) NY Islanders, 7:00 PM ET -- XM 205
(14) Atlanta at (10) Carolina, 8:00 PM ET -- XM 207
(7) Buffalo at Phoenix, 9:00 PM ET -- XM 209
No playoff implication, but if you're in the Philly area, you can see Chicago at San Jose on the Comcast Network (not CSN, the channel CN8 used to be) at 10:30. Go Flyers.