The Anaheim Ducks had everyone wondering if they had a massive playoff push in them midway through this season, but now they sit one game under .500, trying to play spoiler to other Pacific Division teams. About the most that they can spoil for the Blues would be winning their first Presidents' Trophy in 12 years -- the Blues are three games up on the New York Rangers for first in the NHL, with the Pittsburgh Penguins very close behind. A loss to the Ducks tonight won't do much to hurt their odds for home ice advantage, however. The Blues are six points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks for the top seed in the Western Conference, and are a very cushy eight points ahead of the next closest Central Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings.
The Blues traditionally have had problems at the Duck Pond, for whatever reason. They've won two of their last 16 games in Anaheim, but the Pond's usual lively atmosphere is tempered with frustration right now. A loss tonight means a three game losing streak, and goalie Jonas Hiller might not help out the team's cause against the Blues. He has a winning record against St. Louis, but has a 3.20 GAA against the Blues. Jaroslav Halak also has a winning record against the Ducks, but his GAA is a much better 2.30 -- and his overall GAA is 1.85, good for second in the NHL.
The Blues' goaltending isn't their only reason that they've been this successful. Their defense has been stellar, and their forwards have also been playing a good defensive game. David Backes, who is a +17, will not miss tonight's game after taking a puck off of the tip of his skate Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jason Arnott should also be back tonight, and his +13 and 16 goals on the season will come in handy going up against a team with Bobby Ryan on it. The defense'll have their work cut out for them keeping Ryan off of the board. He has 11 goals against the Blues in his career.
The Blues suited up their opening day roster in practice, but don't get too excited. Kris Russell seems good to go, but probably won't play tonight. Steen and D'Agostini are also taking it easy as to not aggravate their concussions, and Andy McDonald is still a little ways off with his bruised shoulder. Hopefully fans will be seeing the full roster on the ice when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin in may.