The St. Louis Blues continued to slide down the standings after another disappointing loss on Monday night to the Vancouver Canucks.
The turnaround will be quick, though, as the Blues travel to Atlanta to face the surging Thrashers Tuesday night.
The Blues are currently on a two-game losing streak, are 3-5-2 in their last two games and have fallen from playoff contention in the matter of a week.
Seeing an Eastern Conference team would have been a pleasant break except the Thrashers are playing at a high level at this point in the season.
In their previous meeting this season the Blues defeated Atlanta 4-3 in a shootout with defensive-minded Jay McClement netting his first career hat trick. McClement notched two goals in 1:46 late in the third period to erase a 3-1 hole and propel the game into overtime.
Atlanta is coming off an impressive 6-3 victory over Toronto on Monday night. Tobias Enstrom recorded four points, including two goals, and helped push the Thrashers past the Capitals into first place in the Southeast.
If the Blues are to get back on track, facing an Eastern Conference team in the second night of a back-to-back may be the cure. The Blues are 7-1-1 against the Eastern Conference this season and are 4-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Ty Conklin may get the start tonight and in his career has a better GAA than starter Jaroslav Halak against Atlanta. For the Thrashers, former Blue Chris Mason should get the start, as Atlanta is also playing a back-to-back. Mason is 13-3-1 with a 2.01 GAA against St. Louis, with all of that coming as Nashville's starter.
After having a five-game point streak, Alex Steen has been scoreless the last two games. Still missing key forwards, Steen needs to get back on the scoresheet, as players like Brad Boyes and David Backes haven't been pulling their weight.
For Atlanta, their defense has been a key to their offensive output. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, converted from forward, leads the team with 24 assists and was a beast against the Blues in his career while with Chicago. With his forward mindset, Byfuglien has transformed not only his defensive play but the play and mindset of all the defensemen on this team as well.
The key for St. Louis will be to play a full zone-to-zone game. The forwards need to back check all game, the defensemen need to make smart pinches, the team as a whole needs to stay out of the penalty box and the power play needs to convert on any chances they get.
In the last five games, the Blues have allowed at least one power play goal but have only converted on two power plays for themselves. Special teams were a big part of the Blues' early season success, and with the injuries they have sustained the special teams have faltered immensely.
Due to rights to the Versus Network, this game will not be seen on TV, which may be exactly what the Blues need. Catch the game at 6:00 CST on KMOX 1120 or stlblues.com.
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