NHL on NBCSN: Slumping Blues begin six-game homestand against Flyers

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Flyers come out of the holiday break with a tough three-game road trip ahead. They’ll visit the Blues tonight before taking on the Sharks on Friday and the Ducks on Sunday.

Philadelphia went into Christmas having dropped three of their last four contests, but overall, the first three months of the season went pretty well for them.  They currently sit in the final Wild Card spot with a record of 20-12-4.

“It’s important not to give back the ground that we gained,” general manager Ron Hextall said, per the Inquierer. “Yeah, we’ve gained some ground the last month and half. But we can’t give it back. We have to keep pushing here.”

It sounds like the Flyers will make a couple of lineup changes heading into tonight’s game.

With Michael Raffl on the shelf, Taylor Leier will get an opportunity to play on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Since being recalled from the minors on Dec. 5, Leier has spent most of his time on the fourth line, so this is a big promotion for the 22-year-old.

“It’s a big deal,” send Leier via CSN Philly. “I’ll bring the same gameday mentality. I’m not going to play differently. Whatever line I play on, I will play the same, whether it’s with (Nick) Cousins or (Dale) Weise or G and Jake.

“If I get put up there, they are putting me up there for a reason and that’s to play my game. I’ll stick to my strengths. Bring speed. Those guys are world class talents. It’ll be nice to play with them if I get the opportunity.”

The Flyers will also sit Brandon Manning and replace him with Nick Schultz, who’s been a healthy scratch in 22 straight games.

The Blues went into the break in third place in the Central Division, but they’ve had plenty of issues in the last month.

They’ve managed to win just three of their last nine contests (two of the victories came against New Jersey) and they’re hoping that some time away from the game will fix their struggles.

“We needed the time off, that’s for sure,” said Kevin Shattenkirk, per the Post-Dispatch. “We’ll always tell you that. We were half-in, half-out, that’s what you saw in the results of our games. We were in for 30, 40, 45 minutes, going into third periods with leads and letting them slip away, and that’s not the team we want to be known as.”

The good news is that this is the first of six consecutive home games for the Blues. Sure, one of those games will be played outdoors at Busch Stadium, but home cooking has tasted really good for St. Louis in 2016-17.

They’re 13-2-4 at the Scottrade Center, but the problem is that they’re just 5-10-1 on the road. That’s a little problematic when you’re trying to chase down teams like Chicago and Minnesota.

With the Winter Classic just five days away, it’ll be important for St. Louis to keep their focus on the upcoming games instead of looking ahead to their outdoor clash with the ‘Hawks.

Related:

Gretzky headlines Blues roster for Winter Classic alumni game

Blues, Blackhawks unveil Winter Classic jerseys

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