Still Improving

Despite several marquee names, the St. Louis Blues are receiving their biggest boost from a relative unknown.

Brad Boyes looks to continue his fast start and help the Blues avenge an earlier loss this season to the Phoenix Coyotes when the teams face off at Scottrade Center on Tuesday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made St. Louis -210 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on St. Louis -210 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Although they missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2006-07, the Blues were much better in the second half, going 27-18-9 under coach Andy Murray.

Eager to return to the playoffs after a two-year absence, St. Louis (6-3-0) has carried that improved play into this season and Boyes has been a key figure.

The fourth-year center leads the team and ranks among the league leaders with eight goals and is tied for second on the Blues with 10 points - three behind free-agent signing Paul Kariya.

Boyes scored twice - his third multi-goal game of the season - Saturday in St. Louis' 4-3 victory over visiting Washington.

Boyes opened the scoring 45 seconds into the game and gave the Blues a 3-2 lead with 79 seconds left in the second period. His quick goal marked the third time since joining the team late last year that he scored within the first 1:14 of a home game.

"We should play all games at home if things go like that," Boyes said. "It's about taking the energy from the crowd and carry it over to the ice. We've been doing that."

While the top line of Boyes, Kariya and Keith Tkachuk has combined for 14 goals, the Blues haven't gotten much production from anyone else. Lee Stempniak, who scored a career-high 27 goals last season, has one goal while no other player has more than two.

St. Louis has won four of five home games this season, allowing three goals or fewer in each contest.

Manny Legace, however, is 0-3-1 with a 3.97 goals-against average in his last four starts against the Coyotes.

Although Phoenix (3-6-0) is tied with Atlanta for the fewest points in the NHL, one of its wins was a season-opening 3-2 victory over St. Louis on Oct. 4.

That is the only home win this season for the Coyotes, who lost their fifth straight at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday, 5-3 to Dallas.

Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Daniel Carcillo scored for Phoenix, which has scored a Western Conference-low 20 goals.

"We worked hard getting our discipline in place. It seems the last few games we've gone out of our way not to be smart about our play. We have to reel that in during the coming games," coach Wayne Gretzky said.

One of the few bright spots for the Coyotes on Saturday was Doan, who scored his first goal of the season - the 200th of his career - and added two assists. He has nine goals and 17 assists in his last 21 games against the Blues.

Gretzky has yet to decide on a No. 1 goaltender with Alex Auld and Mikael Tellqvist sharing time. Auld has lost three of his last four starts while Tellqvist is 1-2-0 with a 3.36 GAA this season.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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