NHL Extras
More NHL
NHL Odds
More Hockey
NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 14th (All times eastern)

St. Louis Blues (25-22-8) at Colorado Avalanche (30-22-5), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Colorado Avalanche will have Ryan Smyth back on the ice tonight when they host the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.

Smyth has missed Colorado's last 18 games after suffering a fractured right ankle on New Year's Eve against Phoenix. That injury came on the heels of captain Joe Sakic landing on injured reserve due to hernia surgery.

Smyth, who has 11 goals and 28 points in 36 games this season, will help boost a club that is still without Sakic and leading goal-scorer Paul Stastny (appendectomy).

However, Stastny is getting close to returning, as he has been considered questionable for Colorado's last two games. Sakic, meanwhile, has begun light skating with the club.

Even without that trio, the Avalanche are one point back of both Nashville and Calgary for sixth in the Western standings, but are also within arms length in the race for the Northwest Division. Colorado is third in the division, three points behind first-place Minnesota.

Colorado had a two-game winning streak halted on Tuesday, as it fell to Anaheim by a 2-1 count. Marek Svatos had his team's lone goal while Jose Theodore turned away 27 shots for the Avs. Brett Clarke hurt his shoulder in the loss and is out indefinitely.

Theodore had won three straight games, and still has a 1.64 GAA over his last four starts. The netminder is just 1-4-0 with a 4.22 GAA in five career starts versus St. Louis.

The Avalanche play their second straight at home tonight, and have lost four of their last five at the Pepsi Center. Colorado is still 18-9-2 as the host this season.

If the Blues are going to make the playoffs, they need All-Star goaltender Manny Legace to turn things around. Legace went 0-2-1 in four games before backstopping St. Louis to a 4-2 victory on Tuesday. He made 25 saves in that game, his first win since February 1.

The netminder allowed five goals in each of his two losses over his personal losing streak, but has given up just five goals in three games since. Legace, though, has done very well in his career against Colorado, going 12-2-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average in 15 games (14 starts) against them.

David Backes and Martin Rucinsky had a goal and an assist each in Tuesday's win, while Andy McDonald and Jay McKee also scored. The victory halted a four- game losing streak for the Blues and was just their third win in their last 14 games.

St. Louis plays the first of back-to-back road games tonight. The Blues have lost six of their last seven on the road and are 9-12-3 as the visiting club this season. St. Louis is currently 12th in the Western Conference, seven back of Colorado, which holds the eighth spot.

Colorado has won two of its three matchups with St. Louis this year, including a 9-5 victory in the only meeting in Denver in 2007-08. Colorado's Milan Hejduk, who turns 32 today, posted a career-high six points on three goals and three assists in that 9-5 victory. The nine goals were the most scored by the club at home since a 9-2 win over Vancouver on October 19, 1996.

However, the Blues have posted a victory in four of their last seven games against the Avs. The Avalanche have won four of their last five at home versus the Blues.

02/14 10:31:47 ET


NHL News
· Giroux hurt as Flyers open camp

· Wild, Kuemper agree to 2-year deal

· Flyers' Timonen out 'months' while recovering from blood clots

More News