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Atlanta Thrashers At St. Louis Blues: Gateway To First Place?

If the Thrashers win tonight, and if the Capitals and the Lightning both lose, then the Thrashers are at least tied for first place in the Southeast division. Of course, to do so, the Thrashers must face Jaroslav Halak and the St. Louis Blues, a team on a three game winning streak and a goalie on a two game shutout streak. Two of those three wins came on back to back nights against the last two Stanley Cup champions. The Blues only have one regulation loss this season, and have a ten-game home unbeaten streak to defend.

Also, tonight is Ondrej Pavelec's first game back since the home opener, and the Thrashers are short Bryan Little due to facial contusions and a concussion sustained in last night's 4-3 defeat of the Buffalo Sabres. Despite the loss of Little, the Thrashers have a lot of momentum and ten goals scored in the previous two games. They've also limited the opposition to less than thirty shots on goal in those games. Coincidence? I think not.

The Blues have allowed a second best in the league low 1.62 goals a game, while scoring 2.75 a game.They're also allowing a league low 25.5 shots on goal a game, which is benefiting Jaroslav Halak a great deal. Between the Blues' solid defense (even being down Roman Polak and possibly Carlo Colaiacovo thanks to a questionable hit from Jordin Tootoo) and goaltending, the Thrashers are going to have a difficult time breaking through.

Offensively, the Blues' youngsters are humming along, and the team gets output from all lines and all positions. This is going to be a difficult game for the Thrashers; especially since the Blues have the same motivation - a win tonight puts the Blues in first in the Central Division if both the Blackhawks and Red Wings lose.

No television tonight, but people with Center Ice/Gamecenter Live can watch the match-up on FoxSports Midwest at 8:00.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.