Sunday, November 06, 2005

GameDay: @ St Louis (2-8-3, 7 Pts) 7:00 ET

Tonight's game is the third of eight games between the Wings and Blues this season. The Wings beat the Blues in the first and second games of the season, 5-1 in JLA and 4-3 in the Savvis Center. In the home opener, Pavel Datsyuk notched a goal and an assist, and Manny Legace had 13 saves on only 14 Blues shots. The following night in St Louis, Jason Williams was the star of the night with three assists, and Legace was solid again with 23 saves on 26 shots. The Wings have gone on a two-game losing streak, following an impressive nine-game win streak that set NHL records. On Thursday, the Wings lost 4-3 (OT) to Edmonton. And last night, the Wings lost 4-1 to the Coyotes in an undisciplined performance. Chris Chelios was ejected from the game for arguing a cross checking call during the latter part of the first period, and Holmstrom also received a 2 minute unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing an elbowing call in the third. The Wings were beat to loose pucks by the Coyotes, leading to penalties, which led to four power play goals from Phoenix. Says Coach Mike Babcock:
"The bottom line is about discipline. At one point, we spent 16 of 36 minutes in the penalty box. You can't build any momentum. The guys were prepared to play tonight, but we lost our discipline. I just know we can do a better job with our discipline, that's something we're in control of, and we let that (get) in the way of success and that is unacceptable."
So the Wings enter tonight's game with their first slump. Says Osgood:
"You knew it was going to come sooner or later. A lot of the games have been close this season. There are a lot of good teams. It wasn't going to be smooth sailing all season. We just need a win to nip this in the bud."
Along the lines of ending this mini-slump, the Blues are a great matchup for the Wings. Entering tonight's game, the Blues are on a seven game losing streak, most recently losing 7-2 to Edmonton on Friday, in Chris Pronger's return as an Oiler. In that game, they went 0-8 on the power play in front of a home crowd, and allowed 7 goals on 28 shots. Says Blues Coach Mike Kitchen:
"We're not a very competent team right now. Tonight's game was the poorest we've skated as a team."
Blues defenseman Eric Brewer also takes an honest view:
"We're last in the league because we deserve to be last in the league. We just didn't play well tonight and we need to suck it up and play better hockey."
Chris Osgood will get the start for the Wings, his first back-to-back of the season. It is likely Reinhard Divis will get the start for the Blues, as Patrick Lalime allowed four goals on 15 shots on Friday and lost his fifth straight. The Wings went 0-7 on the power play last night, while the Coyotes went 4-9 on the power play. Those are the only special teams stats that matter going into this game. Shanahan is one assist shy of 600...Jason Woolley missed his sixth game (groin) and is questionable for tonight...Datsyuk is on an eight game point streak...The Blues are 18 points back from the Wings in the Central Division.


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