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BLUES (12-11-5) at RED WINGS (14-10-5)
Last 10 -- St. Louis 6-3-1; Detroit 4-4-2
Season series -- It's the fourth meeting of the season between the Central Division rivals, but the first at Joe Louis Arena. The Blues won a pair of games in Stockholm, Sweden, on the season's first weekend, and the Wings won 4-3 in a shootout at St. Louis on No. 28. After this game, the clubs don't see each other for exactly two months -- until Detroit visits St. Louis on Feb. 9.
Big story -- The Wings have begun to play a little better -- they're up to ninth in the crowded Western Conference playoff race -- and are starting a stretch of four home games in a five-game stretch. St. Louis has split its last eight games and followed up shootout wins at San Jose and Los Angeles last week with a 4-0 home loss to Colorado on Monday.
Blues -- Being away from home might not be the worst thing in the world for the erratic Blues. They are 4-9-2 at ScottradeCenter and are coming off a 4-0 loss to Colorado on Monday night.
"For some reason, we just haven't been able to get it done at home," defenseman Erik Johnson said after the Blues were blanked at home for the first time this season. "You have to at least be .500 at home to be a playoff team. Your home record has to be your bread-and-butter. You have to take pride in your home record. For whatever reason, we just haven't gotten it done."
In contrast, they've been more than "getting it done" on the road, going 6-2-3 (not including the games in Sweden in the home and road records) away from home.
Red Wings -- It's been an up-and-down season for the Wings, but one of the positives has been the continuing development of goaltender Jimmy Howard, who's taking more and more playing time from starter Chris Osgood. Howard is 8-5-1 with a 2.55 goals-against average and was the biggest reason the Wings beat the Rangers 3-1 on Sunday night in New York. His 28 saves included one on a penalty shot and another on a clean breakaway.
"Howie was good," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He mentally battled and he hung in, and he is going to start next game against St. Louis."
Who's hot -- St. Louis' Paul Kariya has four goals in his last six games. … Detroit's Dan Cleary has three goals in his last four games, including the winner on Sunday in New York. Center Kris Draper is 3-2-5 in his last five games and scored goals in the last two.
Injury report -- The Blues will be without defenseman Eric Brewer (back) for another 2-4 weeks. Detroit is still missing five regulars: Andreas Lilja (concussion), Johan Franzen (knee), Valtteri Filppula (wrist), Jason Williams (leg) and Niklas Kronwall (knee).
Stat pack -- The Blues have been consistent, if not plentiful, in their scoring by periods. They have 23 first-period goals, 21 in the second period and 22 in the third. … Osgood is five wins short of becoming the 10th goaltender in NHL history to win 400 games. He's had 311 of those victories with the Wings.
Puck drop -- With only 10 points between fourth place and 14th in the West, every game means a lot. The Wings are in the unusual position of being outside the top eight, and with seven of their last 11 games this month at home, they've got to turn those games into points.
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