Blues seek boost with Canucks in town
The recent baseball championship won by the St. Louis Cardinals has had a positive affect on the city over the last week. The Blues hope to be the latest to ride the wave of momentum created by the Cards' World Series title as they return home to face the struggling Vancouver Canucks.
It was a week ago that the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers for their second championship in six years, sending the city into a festive celebration. Two days later, the St. Louis Rams of the NFL picked up their first victory of the season and now the Blues will try to get in on the party.
St. Louis returns home after splitting a four-game road trip, losing the last two games of the swing in Calgary and Edmonton. The Blues concluded the trip on Sunday with a 4-2 defeat to the Oilers, getting goals from David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo.
In his first start in five games, Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves in the loss.
"They came out hard and played a good game," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "It seemed like we couldn't capitalize on our chances."
St. Louis will now play six of its next seven at home, where it is 2-1-0 on the year, and will celebrate the Cardinals' World Series title tonight. Tony La Russa and others will be in attendance, with La Russa set to drop the first puck. He retired as St. Louis' manager days after the Fall Classic.
Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, who picked up the title-winning victory over the Rangers, joined the Blues at practice on Thursday. Carpenter played hockey in high school before concentrating full time on baseball.
"We were joking about it that maybe we could use him on the power play to help us out," Pietrangelo told NHL.com. "He seems like a pretty good player out there. He's probably better at hockey than we are at baseball. It's good to see him. I think we all know he's a pretty good athlete."
Less funny is the fact that the Blues are just 3-for-36 on the power play this year to rank 30th in the NHL.
The Canucks continue their six-game road trip this evening and picked up their second straight victory in the swing's opener on Tuesday in Calgary before getting routed in Minnesota last night, 5-1.
Dan Hamhuis scored an early goal for the Canucks, his first in 22 games, but the Wild netted the next five to drop Vancouver to 4-1-0 when scoring first.
"Every shot they got, we gave it to them," Henrik Sedin said. "We kept coming to the middle and trying to force pucks up the middle through the neutral zone and we turned a lot of pucks over."
Making his fifth start of the season, Cory Schneider made 40 saves in a solid effort that was wasted by his teammates.
"Well, we lost 5-1 and our best player by far was our goaltender. That about can sum it up right there," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault. "The execution was non-existent and they were the much better team tonight."
Vancouver skated without defenseman Sami Salo, who was scratched due to a groin injury.
The Blues shut out the Canucks, 3-0, on Oct. 26, with Alexander Steen scoring twice and Brian Elliott making 32 saves for his first blanking of the season and 10th of his career. Steen has six goals in his last five games versus the Canucks.
St. Louis is 6-4-1 in its last 11 games versus Vancouver, going 3-1-1 in the last five at home.