Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the St. Louis Blues hosting the Philadelphia Flyers starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• St. Louis is 10 points away from its second division title in the last three seasons (2011-12) after not having won one since 1999-2000. The Blues need eight points in their final eight games for a franchise-record 115, surpassing their mark of 114 in ’99-00. They currently sit three points behind Boston for the Presidents’ Trophy, an award the franchise only won once, in that 1999-2000 season. That season, the Blues were upset in the Western Conference Quarterfinals by San Jose in seven games.
• Tonight’s game pits nine 20-goal scorers (plus another on injured reserve – Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko) from this season, five on each team. The Flyers and Blues are two of the three NHL teams with five or more 20-goal scorers. (Colorado is the other, also with five.)
The Blues’ balanced attack also includes five players with 50+ points: Steen, Oshie – 60, Backes – 56, Schwartz – 53, Alex Pietrangelo – 50. Chicago, Colorado and Pittsburgh are the only other teams with that many (all with five).
• In the last three games, the Blues top line of LW Steen (three goals, three assists) – C Backes (three goals, three assists) – RW Oshie (four goals, two assists) has combined for 18 points. Steen, with a career-high 33 goals this season, is tied for second in the league in game-winning goals (nine), behind Montreal’s Max Pacioretty (10). Backes (27 goals, 259 hits) and Boston’s Milan Lucic (21 goals, 232 hits) are the only players in the league with 20+ goals and 230+ hits this season. In his sixth NHL season, Oshie has set career highs in goals (21), assists (39) and points (60).
• Giroux led the NHL in scoring in March with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 13 games, tied for the most points by a Flyers player in any month over the last 12 seasons (Jeff Carter in Dec. 2008; Jakub Voracek in Feb. 2013). The Flyers are 19-2-1 this season when Giroux scores a goal. Elias Sports Bureau
• Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, who ranks seventh all-time with 655 wins, needs one win to tie his career single-season high for wins, 51 (set with the eventual Stanley Cup champion 1998-99 Dallas Stars). Hitchcock coached the Flyers for three full seasons (2002-04, 2005-06), helping them to three 100+ point seasons and an Eastern Conference Final berth in 2004, before getting fired eight games into the 2006-07 season.
• On Sunday, Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier scored his 400th and 401st career NHL goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to Boston. Tonight, he suits up in career NHL game number 1,099. In six career games at Scottrade Arena (all with Tampa Bay), he has no goals and four assists. His team went 2-3-1.
• The Blues are 26-6-4 (.778%) at home this season, second only to Boston (29-7-3, .782%) in home win percentage this season. The Blues are 8-1-2 in their last 11 home games, outscoring their opponents 38-25. The Flyers are 4-1-1 in their last 6 road games, outscoring their opponents 20-16.
• The Blues are 40-2-5 when scoring first and 28-1-3 when leading after the first period, thanks to 67 first-period goals this season (T-5th in the NHL) and a +7 goal differential (67-60). It only gets better for the Blues. They are +30 (79-49) in the second period and +31 (83-52) in the third this season.