Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim Ducks vs St. Louis Blues: Puckdrop

 

The Anaheim Ducks return to action tonight in their first game back from the Olympic break. The puck drops inside the Honda Center at 7:00PM. The Anaheim Ducks(41-14-5) will be hosting the St. Louis Blues(39-12-6) in a battle of first place teams.

The Ducks are looking to continue their winning ways after beating the Nashville Predators 5-2 before the break. Jonas Hiller will start in net for the Ducks. With a 25-9-4 record, Hiller has earned a .917 save percentage and averages 2.34 goals per game against him. Captain Ryan Getzlaf leads the team with 29 goals for  67 points.  Corey Perry has 30 goals for a total of 60 points.  Getzlaf ranks second in league scoring and has earned 20 points (9-11) in his last 16 games. Corey Perry boasts 30 goals in 60 games this season with five goals for 11 points in his last 12 contests. Sami Vatanen returned to the Norfolk Admirals, but should come back when the roster expands for the playoffs. Nick Bonino and Mark Fistric both practiced this week without pain, according to Bruce Boudreau. Both could be ready to play in tonight’s game. Bonino’s face off skills have been greatly missed and Fistric will add some more toughness in the lineup. The Anaheim Ducks are looking strong and healthy going into tonight’s matchup.

The St. Louis Blues remain in first place in the Central Division with 84 points from a 39-13-6 record. They are tied in points with the Chicago Blackhawks, who are two games ahead in the schedule. The Blues last played the Vancouver Canucks on February 26 and lost 1-0. Alexander Steen is tied for the team in points with 28 goals for 46 points.  T.J. Oshie has 14 goals also for 46 points. The rest of the team’s leading scorers are Captain, David Backes, 20 goals for 42 points, Jaden Schwartz 19 goals also for 42 points, and Alex Pietrangelo 6 goals for 41 points. Backes leads the team with 182 hits.

The Blues traded goalie, Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a third-round draft pick in 2016 to the Buffalo Sabres. In exchange, the Blues will receive goalie Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott. With a 15-4-2 record, Brian Elliot will most likely starting in net due to last-minute travel notice.  Elliot has a .916 save percentage and averages 2.13 goals against a game.

The Ducks look to sweep the season series against the Blues tonight. The Ducks first played the Blues on December 7th in St. Louis. The Ducks pulled out a win in that contest with five different players posting goals, including Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry; both on pace to both score more than 40 goals this season.

On January 18th, the Ducks visited the Scottrade Center for a rematch. The Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period with a goal by Cam Fowler, also known as “CamAmerica” for making the US Olympic hockey team roster. The Blues would rally in the third period scoring twice, but failed to get the tying goal. Frederik Andersen earned a victory that night with a 34 save performance.

This will be a great matchup as the Anaheim Ducks are first place in the Pacific Division and the St. Louis Blues are the leaders in the Central Division. These two teams could very well end up in the Western Conference Finals this post season.

The Blues are a great puck possession team so the key to a Ducks’ victory will be to dump the puck in deep and keep the puck cycling. Early and frequent scoring will make life difficult for the Blues to win. Let’s go Ducks!

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Blues Corey Perry Jonas Hiller Ryan Getzlaf

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