Blue Jackets-Blues Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 09, 2012
With their defense and special teams leading the way, the St. Louis Blues have surged to the top of the Western Conference standings and are in contention for the second Presidents' Trophy in team history. The Blues will try to continue that success during a home-and-home set that begins Saturday night against the surging Columbus Blue Jackets, who likely won't have starting goaltender Steve Mason available. St. Louis (43-18-7) has allowed two goals or fewer over eight straight games and has won seven of those. That stretch has vaulted the Blues to a one-point lead over Vancouver in the West. "It's always nice to look at the standings when you are first," goaltender Jaroslav Halak said. "More fun that way. This was important for us." St. Louis is also vying with the Canucks and New York Rangers among others for the best record in the league. The Blues won their only Presidents' Trophy in 1999-00. Halak has recorded all seven of those wins for his second such win streak this season and second of his career. He matched his run from Jan. 3-21 by stopping 24 shots in a 3-1 win over Anaheim on Thursday. St. Louis also extended a streak of consecutive penalty kills to 35 in that victory and improved to 20-1-3 in its last 24 home games. "We're not the most talented team in the National Hockey League," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We just find ways to win. That's what this team is about." Brian Elliott might start Saturday in place of Halak, who could return for Sunday's game in Columbus that starts a season-high, seven-game road trip. Elliott has lost three straight, including a 2-0 defeat in Vancouver on March 1, but is still among the league leaders with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage. He made 23 saves in a 2-1 win in Columbus on Nov. 27 and is 3-0-1 with a 2.45 GAA in four all-time starts against the Blue Jackets (22-38-7). If Elliott starts, he'll face a team that's won four in a row - its longest win streak since a five-game run Nov. 17-24, 2010 - but lost Mason to an injury during a 3-1 home victory over Los Angeles on Thursday. Mason's left hand was cut by teammate John Moore's skate after Moore was knocked into the net in the second period. The former Calder Trophy winner needed 15 stitches to close the wound and is not expected to play this weekend. "It's frustrating but we still got the win so that was the most important thing," Mason said. "We'll see how quickly the hand heals." That leaves Curtis Sanford or Allen York, recalled from the team's ECHL affiliate in Chicago on Friday, to start the next two games. Sanford stopped all 13 shots he faced Thursday but couldn't end a three-game losing streak. He was on the losing end of the Nov. 27 matchup, his only career game against St. Louis. York has appeared in five NHL games, none versus the Blues. Whoever starts will try to lead Columbus to only its ninth victory in 28 games against St. Louis. The Blue Jackets snapped a five-game skid in the series with a 2-1 home win Feb. 14 in which Mason outdueled Halak. St. Louis is 12-1-1 in its last 14 home matchups, including a 6-4 win Dec. 18. The Blues scored four goals in the third period of that contest.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Yordano Ventura killed in car accident

Falcons benefit from questionable call after turnover

Report: Tomlin, Steelers fined Antonio Brown $10,000

Ten biggest winners and losers from NFL Championship Sunday

Luke Walton rips Lakers after 'embarrassing' 49-point loss

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Oregon firing OC David Reaves after DUI arrest

Report: Colts hired psychologists for Pagano-Grigson relationship

Report: Kelly a candidate to replace Shanahan as Falcons OC

Baron Davis blames Russia for Westbrook All-Star snub

Reason Jabari Parker was benched revealed

Sanders, Ware think Romo would be good fit for Broncos

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Ranking the top three conferences in college basketball

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker