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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Blues, Monday 11-23

The Bruins (10-8-4) will make their third stop on this current four-game road trip tonight, as they visit the Scottrade Center in St. Louis to take on the Blues (8-8-4).

Boston will finally have a welcome addition back in their lineup this evening, as all signs point to center Marc Savard making his return tonight after missing the last 15 games with a broken foot. This could be the first time this season that the Bruins will have all hands on deck with a completely healthy lineup. We have to say “could” though because it is still unknown whether goalie Tim Thomas has recovered from an undisclosed injury that kept him sidelined for the past two games. Tonight’s starting goalie is yet to be determined.

Based on reports out of yesterday morning’s team practice, look for Savard to at least start the game centering a line with wingers Marco Sturm and Byron Bitz. The other lines skating together at practice yesterday included a Wheeler-Krejci-Ryder line, a Lucic-Bergeron-Recchi checking line, and a fourth line of Thornton-Begin-Paille. Vladimir Sobotka will be the likely scratch this evening.

Here now, a closer look at tonight’s opponents, the St. Louis Blues…

  • Both St. Louis and Boston will head into tonight’s matchup looking for their first 3-game win streaks of the season. Boston is coming off two wins in Atlanta and Buffalo, while the Blues have home wins over Phoenix and the New York Islanders to their credit.
  • The Blues have owned the B’s in recent years, by a landslide. St. Louis is 13-2-2 vs. Boston since the ’96-’97 season, including wins in 8 of their last 9. Last season, these two squads split the season series, each winning on the other’s home ice.
  • Special teams will certainly play a huge role in tonight’s skate in the Midwest. While these two teams can currently be found at the very bottom of the league’s power play rankings (Boston is 29th at 13.2%, St. Louis is 30th at 12.7%), both teams’ penalty killing units are among the league’s best (Boston is 5th at 84.0%, St. Louis is 3rd at 84.9%). Look for the return of Marc Savard to help the B’s climb the ranks quickly on the man-advantage.
  • The Blues are led on the score sheet by young defenseman Erik Johnson (2G, 12A), followed by center Andy McDonald (6G, 7A), and wingers David Perron (9G, 4A), and veteran Keith Tkachuk (4G, 8A).
  • Judging by this morning’s practice for the Blues, St. Louis will likely start Chris Mason in goal tonight. Mason is 6-6-3 with a 2.16GAA in his 15 starts this season. He is backed up by journeyman netminder Ty Conklin (2-2-1, 2.24GAA).
  • Looking at local ties on the St. Louis roster, ex-Bruin Brad Boyes is the first name that jumps out. Boyes, who put up 103 points in 144 games with Boston during his nearly 2 seasons in black and gold, went to St. Louis in 2007 in exchange for current B’s defenseman Dennis Wideman.
  • Also with ties to Massachusetts is Melrose-born veteran Keith Tkachuk. Tkachuk played his high school hockey at Malden Catholic, followed by a year at Boston University in ’90-’91. Since then, Tkachuk has skated for the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, and now with St. Louis.

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