November 21, 2014

St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong offered a very reasonable defense for his inactivity at the trade deadline: The eventual returns of multiple injuried players will add more than enough depth than the Blues could've acquired without giving up someone off the current roster.

The same went for Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, who made a significant deal in early February and simply kicked the tires on potential acquisitions before leaving the onus on his current group to fill the void left by Kyle Turris' injury.

St. Louis is in a much more enviable position playoff-wise than the Senators, though, and it'll look to snap Ottawa's three-game home winning streak Tuesday night.

Alexander Steen, Jori Lehtera, Steve Ott and Brian Elliott are battling injuries at the moment, with Lehtera the only one not on injured reserve. Those setbacks haven't slowed the Blues (36-20-9) much, however, considering they can jump Chicago for second in the Central Division with a victory over Ottawa (30-27-6).

Armstrong traded prospect Niklas Lundstrom and a fifth-round pick to Edmonton for Anders Nilsson on Saturday to add goaltending depth while Elliott recovers, but he stood pat Monday and let the deadline pass.

Forward Ryan Reaves also is set to return after serving a three-game suspension.

"We've got a little scar tissue this year, a little battle-tested," Armstrong said. "The great thing is, we have a very good record, but we're in the best division in hockey bar none.

"I didn't see a player that was going to fit into our (forward) group of nine when we're 100 percent healthy."

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned from missing the previous nine with a knee injury and scored the last of St. Louis' four unanswered goals in Sunday's 5-2 win at Carolina that snapped a three-game skid.

''Petro makes a huge difference. What can you say?'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''He organizes our team better, puts players in better position play-wise, gets us better matchups. He really helps us a lot.''

The Blues have lost four of five meetings with the Senators after falling 3-2 on Bobby Ryan's overtime goal Jan. 4. Ryan has only two goals over his last 10, but his teammates have picked up the slack lately.

Ottawa has won five of six after Mika Zibanejad recorded a hat trick during a span of 2:38 in the third period of Saturday's 6-4 victory at Calgary. It is chasing Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot and will have to do so without Turris, who was shut down indefinitely Monday because of a nagging high ankle sprain.

The Senators made a couple of minor trades before the deadline but decided not to do anything drastic after acquiring defenseman Dion Phaneuf from Toronto in a nine-player trade Feb. 9. Murray admitted to having conversations with Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman regarding Jonathan Drouin and nearly acquired Brandon Pirri before Florida dealt him to Anaheim.

"At the end of the day, we decided that we had enough players to fill (Turris') role," Murray said. "I certainly wasn't going to pay a first- or second-round pick for a rental player at this point. We think that the group that we have right now gives us a chance."

Craig Anderson has a 1.36 goals-against average while winning five straight home starts and could be in net for this matchup.

The Blues, who have four days off before completing a four-game road swing Sunday against Minnesota, likely will give Jake Allen the nod.

You May Like