Signs of Breaking Out

The St. Louis Blues are showing signs of breaking out of their season-long power-play slump. A trip to Chicago might give them an extra boost.

Having scored power-play goals in consecutive games for the first time in a month, the Blues look to continue their success with the man advantage in Chicago when they face the Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Chicago -105 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -105 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

St. Louis has the league's worst power-play conversion rate at 12.4 percent (23-for-186), but it has scored a goal with the man advantage in two straight games for the first time since a three-game stretch from Dec. 7-11.

On Sunday night, the Blues (22-15-6) went 1-for-3 on the power play in a 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver after converting just two of their previous 43 chances. Their power-play unit has been very effective in Chicago, though.

St. Louis has split four games with the Blackhawks (20-21-4) this season and is 1-1-0 at the United Center, scoring on four of its nine opportunities with the man advantage there.

Brad Boyes scored on the power play for the Blues on Sunday, giving him 25 goals overall this season. He needs one more to match his career high set in 2005-06 with Boston. Boyes, though, has not scored a goal in five career games against the Blackhawks.

Low-scoring St. Louis defenseman Christian Backman had a goal and an assist Sunday. Backman's goal ended a 39-game drought. He had seven goals last season and six in 2005-06.

Erik Johnson, another Blues defenseman, was named to the Western Conference YoungStars team Tuesday along with teammate David Perron, and they will compete in a 3-on-3 competition on Jan. 26. Both players are just 19 years old.

Johnson has three goals - all game-winners - and 16 points. Perron, the 26th overall pick in last year's draft, has two goals and three points in two games versus the Blackhawks, and nine goals and 18 points on the season.

Rookie scoring leader Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, meanwhile, tops the list of newcomers invited to All-Star weekend. Kane, the top pick in the 2007 draft, is first among rookies with 40 points (nine goals, 31 assists).

Kane, 19, was the rookie of the month for October when he put up 16 points, the most by a rookie in 15 years. He helped Chicago snap an eight-game losing streak Sunday night, scoring a shootout goal as the Blackhawks beat Nashville 3-2.

Kane also had an assist in that game after being held off the scoresheet in four straight contests.

Patrick Sharp, who paces Chicago with 22 goals, found the back of the net in the second period Sunday before netting the winner in the shootout. The winger had one goal in his previous six games.

Still, the Blackhawks have failed to score more than two goals in eight of their last nine games. However, Sunday's win marked the second time in that span they allowed fewer than three goals, led by backup goalie Patrick Lalime making 35 saves.

"He will probably get another start," Chicago coach Denis Savard said of Lalime, who is 3-3-1 with a 2.42 goals-against average in seven starts against St. Louis.

Top goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has lost seven straight starts, posting a 3.36 GAA.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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