Blues-Red Wings Preview


The Detroit Red Wings have lost twice to revitalized St. Louis since the Blues hired coach Ken Hitchcock, but two visits to Joe Louis Arena this week could slow the Blues' surge.

The Red Wings look to win their 11th straight home game when they host St. Louis on Tuesday night.

Detroit has played nine of its last 12 away from home, and after Tuesday will return to the road for four of five. The Red Wings (22-12-1) will therefore look to take advantage of a brief stop at home.

Detroit's 10-game winning streak at Joe Louis Arena is its longest since a 13-game run Dec. 20, 2006-Feb. 21, 2007. The Red Wings haven't just been defeating opponents during the current streak, they've been dominating them by a 51-15 margin.

They'll also be looking to build off a 4-1 win at Nashville on Monday, as they avoided a three-game skid. Valtteri Filppula scored twice while Jimmy Howard made 31 saves.

The Red Wings scored twice in a 19-second span in the second period to make it 3-0.

"It was key to get two quick goals, especially doing it on the road,'' defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We got the first goal but I thought we didn't slow down at all. We just kept playing our game and getting opportunities.''

Detroit, which plays its next three games against the two teams it trails in the Central Division standings, hasn't demonstrated that kind of intensity in either loss to St. Louis (21-10-4) this season. The Red Wings averaged 25.5 shots and went 2 for 13 on the power play while losing 2-1 on Nov. 15 and 3-2 on Dec. 6.

Both Blues victories came under Hitchcock. They improved to 15-3-4 since he took over after a 5-3 home victory over Dallas on Monday, their seventh win in the last nine games.

Adam Cracknell, recalled from the minors earlier Monday, put St. Louis ahead for good in the second period and the Blues outshot the Stars 38-23 behind a solid effort by Jaroslav Halak.

St. Louis continues to split time in net between Halak and Brian Elliot, who is 14-3-0 with a 1.55 goals-against average this season and started both wins against Detroit. Only once in the last nine games has Halak or Elliot had to face more than 29 shots.

Strong defense also helps ease the pressure on the offense, which will be without T.J. Oshie for a second straight game Tuesday night due to a sore left wrist. Oshie has 11 goals and is tied for the team lead with 23 points.

Hitchcock considers the next week a crucial one, with two games in Detroit, including another on Saturday.

"We've got a ways to go," he said. "I don't want to say what level we can be at until we start playing teams in their buildings. I think we'll get a better read in two weeks. ... But I love our competitive level."

Detroit could be without right wing Tomas Holmstrom, who left Monday's game with a groin injury.