BOSTON - NOVEMBER 06: Andy McDonald #10 of the St. Louis Blues tries to hang on to the puck as David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins defends on November 6 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Blues and Bruins are both hard nosed teams reliant on excellent goaltending and even strength play; both teams are also missing important cogs in the machine for tonight's match-up.
There's something to be said for not giving up. The Blues have long had a reputation for being a blue collar, hard nosed team that gets under the skin of opponents. They're without a superstar player, and are doing perfectly fine without one. Defense by committee is what has been the strength of the Blues and has been, for quite some time, the strength of the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately for the latter team, the committee seems to have been adjourned for a few games.
The Bruins allow a pretty respectable 2.30 goals a game on average thanks to the goaltending tandem of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. Thomas, who is tonight's likely goaltender, has a solid 2.21 GAA and a .929 save percentage. The sign of the slippage of the team, however, is that goals per game average going up. They used to be number one in the league, then were surpassed by the Blues, and now are fifth in the league. They got absolutely hammered earlier this month in a 6-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, proving that the Stanley Cup Champions were human after all.
The Bruins, in their February slide, have been shut out four times. There's cause for them to worry tonight about a fifth one. The Blues have twelve shutouts this year, ten of which have been at home. They're home record is absurd (26-3-4) and they haven't lost in regulation to an Eastern Conference team yet (12-0-2, the best Western Conference record against the other conference).
Both teams are without some pretty heavy guns. David Booth is re-experiencing concussion-like symptoms and has 17 goals with 15 assists on the season. Rich Peverley, acquired last season from the Atlanta Thrashers, is out with a bum knee. He has just nine goals this season, but he also has 29 assists and is the team's leading faceoff guy (61.5% wins). The Blues will be missing Jamie Langenbrunner, out for a month with a broken foot; this is on top of Alex Steen and Matt D'Agostini.
The Blues need to get the wins at home that they can, because they're going on a six game road trip after tonight. Their road record is less than stellar 10-13-3, and the Nashville Predators are starting to threaten to close the gap between 4th and 5th place in the Conference. Defeating the staggering reigning Cup champions at home would be a huge way to close out some time at home while building momentum for the road.