ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 5: Ladislav Smid #5 of the Edmonton Oilers and David Perron #57 of the St. Louis Blues look to control the puck at the Scottrade Center on January 5, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the Oilers 4-3. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Blues staged a three goal third period comeback the last time that the Edmonton Oilers are in town. With the Oilers running on fumes and the Blues getting Kris Russell off of the IR, the Blues should have no excuses tonight.
Yet again, the leader boards in the Central Division. The Red Wings held it for a tad on Tuesday thanks to a win over the Dallas Stars. It switched again to the Chicago Blackhawks with their curbstomping of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. Now, if the Blues take care of the Edmonton Oilers tonight at home, they'll regain the first spot.
The Oilers are going to have a few issues. The Blues have gotten points in thirteen straight home games and have 19 wins at home, which leads the NHL. The last time that Edmonton came to town, the Blues spotted them a rather large lead before coming back to win 4-3 after a torrid third period. The Oilers' are even more depleted than they were last time they came here. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is the early favorite for the Calder Trophy, has been out since January 2nd with a shoulder injury, and then Jordan Eberle was sidelined just five days later with a knee issue.
It's gotten worse for Edmonton. Not only are they out those two young guns and three defensemen (Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney and Cam Barker), now they're out Taylor Hall. He was injured during pre-game warmups on Tuesday when teammate Corey Potter's skate collided with the side of Hall's head. Hall is lucky that it didn't hit him any lower than it did, but as it stands he has a terrible shiner, thirty stitches in the side of the noggin, and is out tonight as a precaution.
The Blues for once are getting someone back from injury. Kris Russell, who has missed the last nine games with an injured groin muscle is back in the line-up tonight. Of course, that means that Ian Cole is back up in the press box despite his recent excellent play. It's a boon for the Blues to have depth like that, though I am fairly sure that Cole would rather be on-ice than in the box.
Unfortunately, according to Louie Korac, Alex Steen will not be back tonight. He's still feeling symptoms of his concussion, and the team is playing it safe with him. It's not do or die right now, so there's no need to rush him. While his extra offense would be appreciated, it can't come at the expense of his health.
It's Nikolai Khabibulin against Jaroslav Halak tonight. One of these goaltenders started off the season on a holy tear before more than cooling off, and the other went the opposite route. Thankfully, the Blues have the goalie currently on a hot streak. After starting the year with a GAA of around 3.60, Jaroslav Halak has three shutouts and has brought that number down to 2.08. A good showing tonight and the Blues might just have both of their goaltenders in the league's top ten.