St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks Preview: Drop It Like It's Hot

Jason BesancenezContributor IMarch 19, 2009

The Vancouver Canucks (37-23-9) will battle on home ice Thursday night at 9 p.m. against the St.Louis Blues (32-29-5).

Vancouver will be attempting to win their 11th straight at home since the beginning of February. They are 10-0-0 since that stretch, setting a franchise record for longest home winning streak.

The St. Louis Blues, on the other hand, need to get some key victories in this road stretch. They have struggled on the road all year long, going 13-16-4 this year.

Vancouver is 21-11-4 at home this year, and do not seem to be slowing up. A few weeks ago, they were looking to stay in their seat while riding the roller coaster of the West.

But since then, they have been battling for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Robert Luongo has only allowed two or fewer goals in 12 of his last 14 starts. He also has won four straight.

The Canucks are 15-3-1 since the beginning of February. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and 6-1-1 in the month of March.

St. Louis lost the last game against Vancouver. The Blues blew a 3-1 lead, and eventually lost the game 6-4.

That was ironically Andy McDonald's first game back since his 36 games missed due to his injury. McDonald scored a goal and had an assist in his first game back.

The Blues are 25-19-8 against the Western conference, and Vancouver is 27-17-7 against the West. St. Louis has managed only six wins against Northwest teams. They are 6-7-3 against Northwest teams.

Vancouver has a 8-8-1 record against Central division teams. The two teams split the season series at 1-1-0 this year.

We might see quite the battle as both teams are gaining ground for different reasons.   

T.J. Oshie is a native of nearby MT. Vernon. Washington figures to have friends and family in the stands. This will be the 3rd time Oshie has faced the Canucks in his young career.

He has three points against Vancouver this year—one goal and two assists in three games. Oshie also has a three-game point streak on the line tonight (1g,4a-5pts). He looks to tie his career high point streak of four games. In that streak, he had (2g-2a-4pts) from December 20 to January 9.

Blues' fans can also watch Brad Boyes try to notch his 30th goal of the season. Brad has (29g,39a-60pts) and leads the team in goals and total points.

The Blues will need to get point shots and screen Luongo as much as possible. In order to score they must forecheck and cycle the puck, and the defense must continue to pinch in.

Chris Mason is 14-6-5 with 1.99 goals-against average in his last 25 appearances. Tonight will be his chance to bring his win-loss record right at even. He sits at 18-19-6 for the season with 4 shutouts. He made 33 saves last game in the shootout loss to Edmonton.

Most notable player for the Blues as of late has been David Backes. He also has a three game point streak on the line. Backes has 10 points in his last seven games (6g, 4a-10pts).

Tonight's match up looks to be sitting on the NHL hot-plate. Make no mistake about it, the Blues-Canucks will drop it like it's hot!