NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 2nd (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (39-14-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (27-22-11), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues have made clear their intentions at making a run at the Stanley Cup this season.
In their first game since getting goaltender Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott in a blockbuster trade, the Blues will debut the two and finish up a three- game road trip on Sunday night looking for some offense against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Prior to a meeting with the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, the Blues pulled off a five-player trade with the Buffalo Sabres, getting Miller and Ott in exchange for netminder Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart and prospect William Carrier along with a pair of draft choices. St. Louis sent a 2015 first-round pick to Buffalo along with a conditional third-round selection in 2016.
Miller and Ott are both unrestricted free agents at season's end, but bolster the Blues' chances at a deep playoff run this season. St. Louis is two points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division with 84 points, but has three games in hand.
Miller, Buffalo's all-time franchise leader with 284 wins, was just 15-22-3 in 40 games for the NHL-worst Sabres this season with a 2.72 goals against average and .923 save percentage.
The 33-year-old two-time All-Star won the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10.
Ott, meanwhile, was serving as Buffalo's captain and logged nine goals and 20 points in 59 games this season.
Both joined the Blues in Phoenix and will be in the lineup tonight. Miller will start against a Phoenix club he is 6-0-0 against with a 1.15 GAA and .963 save percentage in six games, while Ott is expected to be on a line with Derek Roy and T.J. Oshie.
"The thought of getting the grit and determination of a player like Steve Ott, and obviously Ryan Miller's resume speaks for itself, we think this gives us a better opportunity for success this year," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said.
While the Blues strengthened their defense, they have come out of the Olympic break with back-to-back 1-0 losses. That includes a setback to Anaheim on Friday, with Brian Elliott making 18 saves after getting named the starter for the game late following the trade of Halak.
"Between missed nets and blocked shots, we've had over 100 in the past two games," St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That's the issue. Too many blocked shots, too many missed opportunities, too many shots missed the net."
Phoenix will try to snap a three-game slide (0-2-1) tonight and dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Shane Doan scored both goals and backup goaltender Thomas Greiss yielded all four goals on 33 shots.
The teams entered the final frame knotted up at 1-1, but Nate Guenin scored just 48 seconds into the period for the Avs.
"They got the early one in the third and that really hurt us. We had our chances and just couldn't bury them," Doan said.
Phoenix sits one point behind Dallas, Winnipeg and Vancouver for the second wild card spot in the West.
Mike Smith is likely to start tonight for the Coyotes and is 4-6-0 with a 3.10 GAA lifetime against the Blues.
These clubs split two early meetings this season in St. Louis, but the Blues have won seven of the past nine overall and three straight in Phoenix.
03/02 17:12:47 ET