Alex Steen

NHL on NBCSN: Blues, Blackhawks battle for positioning in Central


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center with puck drop at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Blackhawks and Blues conclude their season series tonight in St. Louis. Both teams have won two games in the series.

St. Louis used a 2-1 win over Chicago on Sunday to take over top spot in the Central Division. Jake Allen, who won that game for the Blues, gets the call again Thursday for his third straight start. Allen may have stolen the starting job from veteran Brian Elliott as the playoffs approach.

Chicago has two games remaining (including tonight) and can finish anywhere from the top seed in the Central to the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks head to St. Louis looking to avoid a third straight loss.

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen is day-to-day with an upper body injury following a hit from Ryan Reaves on Sunday. Chicago is also without Brad Richards (upper body) for the remainder of the season. Patrick Kane (clavicle) is skating with the team, but has yet to be cleared for a return.

St. Louis can clinch home ice in the first round with a win tonight. A Blues victory coupled with a Predators regulation loss against the Wild would win St. Louis the Central Division on Thursday. The Blues are looking for their second Central Division crown in four seasons.

The Blues will be without Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) who was injured Sunday night in Chicago. Additionally, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko are expected to miss the contest due to lower body injuries.

St. Louis enters tonight’s action one point up on Nashville and three points ahead of Chicago.

Slumping Blues lose Tarasenko to lower-body injury


Not the news St. Louis wanted to hear — on Wednesday, the club confirmed that leading goalscorer Vladimir Tarasenko is out with a lower-body injury, sustained during Monday’s 4-1 loss to Vancouver.

Tarasenko, who sits tied for fifth in the NHL with 36 goals, didn’t practice today and appears unlikely to suit up for Thursday’s home date against Calgary. The Russian sniper’s injury comes at a bad time for the Blues — the club is just 1-3-2 in its last six games and, with 99 points, is in danger of being passed in the Central by third-place Chicago (98 points, with six games left) and current wild card holder Minnesota (95 points, with six games left).

There is a silver lining to the injury, though, in that it creates a roster spot for AHL Chicago sniper Ty Rattie. The AHL’s reigning player of the week — he had seven points in three games — Rattie has 42 points in 59 games this year and looks as though he’s on his way to St. Louis. PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban was at Wolves practice on Wednesday and confirmed Rattie was pulled off the ice, presumably so he could be shipped off to the Blues.

Update: Blues made the Rattie recall official. Also, head coach Ken Hitchcock said that Tarasenko (and fellow injured forward Alex Steen) are both day-to-day, and will be ready for the playoffs.

With chance to clinch playoff spot, Blues get Oshie back versus Canucks

A regulation or overtime win tonight over the visiting Vancouver Canucks will give the St. Louis Blues a spot in the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

And to help their chances, forward T.J. Oshie will return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Columbus with the flu.

Alex Steen, however, is out after getting hurt versus the Jackets.

Even with just one win in their last five, the Blues still have a reasonable shot at catching Nashville and winning the Central Division. But per Sports Club Stats, their most likely first-round opponent is Chicago.

Blues’ Steen leaves game vs. Jackets (Updated)


St. Louis Blues’ forward Alex Steen left tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets after playing four shifts in the first period.

According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Steen collided knee-on-knee with Blue Jackets’ defenseman Cody Goloubef with 11:30 left in first period and left the game.


The 31-year-old has 24 goals and 62 points in 73 games this season while averaging 20:14 in ice time.

Backes-Oshie-Steen line playing ‘terrific’ for red-hot Blues

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The St. Louis Blues are 6-0-1 in their last seven and have scored an impressive 33 goals over that stretch. A big reason for the offensive output? The play of the club’s top line, featuring T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen and team captain David Backes.

“They’re a terrific line when they play predictable to each other,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said, per the Post-Dispatch. “The look faster when they play that way, they are faster, and you’ve got to have a real disciplined group of five to play against them because they’re willing to work for that one good chance and not give you very much in the meantime.

“My feeling is, with their work ethic, if they stay with it, it’s going to turn out fine.”

Combined, the trio has scored 49 points since being reunited 11 games ago. Steen is currently on a nine-game point streak, Backes has seven goals in his last six and Oshie 12 points in eight games in January. What’s frightening about this is none of them sit atop the Blues’ scoring board; the top two spots belong to Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk.

So it comes as no surprise, then, to see St. Louis sitting second in the NHL with 3.1 goals per game.

The Blues also boast the NHL’s top power play, something we wrote about last week. That, along with the recent offensive surge, are two things St. Louis will need to carry over to the postseason in order to avoid another early exit; against Chicago last spring, the Blues could only muster five goals over the final four games of their opening-round loss and their power play finished a woeful 2-for-29 for the series.

Part of avoiding a repeat will be the continued success between Backes, Steen and Oshie — a unit the captain hopes Hitchcock will keep in place.

“I think he realizes when we’re playing well, when we’re doing all the little things, it’s leading by example,” Backes explained. “The rest of the other guys seem to follow.”