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
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
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
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
02/14 10:31:47 ET