Blues-Red Wings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 01, 2013
The St. Louis Blues continue to get contributions from nearly everyone they put on the ice, and with it, their best start to a season in 15 years. St. Louis will try for its fifth straight win on Friday night when it visits the Detroit Red Wings, who will be looking to avenge their worst season-opening loss in over half a century. The Blues (6-1-0) can match their 7-1-0 start from the 1997-98 season with a win. After the team's only loss of the season to Chicago on Jan. 22, they've responded with four straight victories, including a 4-1 win at Columbus on Thursday. St. Louis tallied three goals in the game's first 14 minutes. All four scores came from a different player, and seven players recorded an assist. It was another example of offensive depth for the Blues, who have three players with at least four goals and five others with at least four assists. "That's what our whole team is about," said defenseman Barret Jackman, who scored his second goal less than three minutes into the game. "We're not a team that relies on three or six guys. It's going to be a team effort every night. Some guys put the puck in the net one night and it's going to be picked up by other guys another night." Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko leads the team - and all first-year players - with five goals after scoring St. Louis' third goal Thursday. The Blues' first-round pick in the 2010 draft, Tarasenko also has four assists in his first seven games. Detroit (3-2-1) has won two of three since starting 1-2-0, which included a 6-0 loss to St. Louis on Jan. 19 that was the Red Wings' worst season-opening defeat since 1958. They notched a 4-1 win over Dallas on Tuesday behind two goals from Valtteri Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk's two assists. Though the Red Wings have been outscored 4-0 in the first period this season, the team's penalty kill continues to improve. Detroit gave up six goals on the opponents' 12 power-play opportunities in the first two games, including four on five chances against St. Louis. Coach Mike Babcock's squad has allowed two on 18 chances over four games since. The Red Wings were 18th in the league last year, successfully defending 81.8 percent of opponents' power plays. "I really like the direction that it's going," Babcock told the club's official website. "We still are making some mistakes, like we made a huge mistake in Chicago, gave up a freebie. You can't do that. We're a work-in-progress. We're spending a lot of time on specialty teams, an inordinate amount of time, actually. ... We have to have top 10 specialty teams, not bottom 10." Detroit forward Darren Helm likely won't play until next week after missing two straight games with a back ailment. The Red Wings won the teams' final four meetings last season before their opening-night matchup. St. Louis had tallied just five goals in those four contests before scoring six in the opener. Detroit has won three straight and six of seven meetings at Joe Louis Arena.
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