St. Louis Blues At Phoenix Coyotes: Big Game For Both Teams On Keith Tkachuk Night

Keith Tkachuk's a valued member of both the Coyotes and Blues franchises. The Blues could use a bit of his tenacity tonight as they need to rebound after a hard loss Thursday night.

The Blues have lost in regulation just three times in the 20 games since Ken Hitchcock took over the helm. Two of those losses have been at home; the third came on Thursday evening against the Colorado Avalanche. It was tough, as the Blues' last ranked power play blew five chances to add to a 2-2 tie. Lots can be argued regarding the goal by Jay McClement that proved to be the Avalanche's game winner: was the net off the moorings before the puck crossed the line? How far up was the net on the side hidden by the mess in the goal? It doesn't matter. It counted, and the Blues had more than enough chances to pull even with the Avs.

Granted, yes, their goals allowed per game is tiny - only 2.06, second in the league - but that gets you nowhere when you also only score around two goals a game. Their 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers and 6-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets are more flukes than a matter of course. The Blues've been able to win by limiting the opposition's scoring chances and by riding both goaltenders' outstanding play, but that elusive insurance goal has escaped them more often than not. Not nitpicking, but out of the three losses and four overtime losses since Hitchcock was named head coach, just the 5-2 blowout by the Chicago Blackhawks was a loss by more than one goal.

The Coyotes haven't been as sharp as they could be recently. They're 5-5-0 in their last ten games, and have lost their starting goaltender Mike Smith to injury. Backup Jason LaBarbera, the expected starter tonight, has performed admirably, helping them win two in a row to put them in a tie for the lead in the Pacific Division. Those two wins came on the road; at home, they only have seven wins and their penalty kill has been atrocious. Brian Elliott could very well get a little goal support tonight, though the Coyotes' penalty kill could get their stats fluffed a bit if the Blues' power play keeps puttering along. As fans have been saying, Ken Hitchcock said that it'd take only one practice to get the power play fixed. He just hasn't held that practice quite yet.

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