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Tonight on NBCSN: Red Wings and Blues war atop the Central rages on

Jan 23, 2012, 7:38 AM EDT

Mike Commodore, B.J. Crombeen AP

We’ve seen plenty from the Red Wings and Blues this season, but when they get together tonight in Detroit (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it’s about as big of a game between the two teams as we’ve seen in a long time.

Bragging rights just aren’t on the line tonight but the Wings have a chance to put the Blues down a bit in the race for the Central Division as well. Detroit heads into tonight’s game with a one point lead on St. Louis and Chicago and if the Red Wings could score a regulation win, putting the Blues three points back in their rear view mirror would be a lot of breathing room for how things have gone this season.

The Blues, Wings, and Blackhawks have all taken turns atop the division (and the conference too) thanks to trading off wins against the rest of the competition. Getting wins against each other is also huge thanks to the tiebreakers that could come into play at the end of the season. For coaches Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock getting playoff-like games this early in the season makes for great preparation for the postseason.

The Blues will have to contend with how well the Red Wings play at home. Detroit hasn’t lost at home in 16 games, their last loss coming on November 3 to Calgary. More than two months at home without losing? That’s taking care of business. St. Louis has already lost twice to Detroit at Joe Louis Arena during this 16-game streak.

On the upside for the Blues, they’re coming into tonight’s game on a four-game win streak. Also working to their advantage is that three of the four these two teams have played already were one-goal games. With how Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have played in goal this season, that helps them a lot.

It’s not going to be easy for St. Louis, but if they want to keep things nice and tight atop the Central they’ll need to come away with two points somehow.

Surprising offense: Two guys to look out for tonight are Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi and St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Bertuzzi has looked like a swift, young skater with velvety hands both in-game and in the shootout. Pietrangelo, meanwhile, is providing the blue line offense that makes him look more like a forward. For a Blues team that doesn’t score a ton of goals, his contributions are huge.

  1. brockohol - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    this should be the matchup for the winter classic. the leafs have no recent significant rivalry with the wings and have been pretty irrelevant for years now. not to say that blues have been a great team during that time…but at least there is some in conference rivalry there and your looking at two teams that could potenially battle in the playoffs this year. I get that Toronto is the biggest hockey market in north America but does Canadian markets drive that much revenue for the likes of the Jul and nbc the way a us market would?

  2. comeonnowguys - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Best division in Hockey.

  3. eggserino - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Another aspect of this game is since Datsyuk got away with a shoulder/ elbow to Barret Jackman’s face, play has been chippier. Watch how the Blues play against Datsyuk in the corners. I hope that they don’t get undisciplined, and take bad penalties. Could be a rough one tonight.

  4. polegojim - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Titans Collide II

    So far this year, the Wings have the edge on the Hawks, but even with the Blues.

    Great preview of WCF

    Let’s GO RED WINGS!

  5. mtr3618 - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Good game tonight! The Blues have the chance to snap the Red Wing’s home winning streak and take the best record in the NHL. Great time to be a Blues fan. I also agree with Brock, this would be a better matchup for the outdoor game. It would get better ratings too.

  6. kiopta1 - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Is this game on? All I seem to get is the Winnipeg vs Carolina game.

  7. kibbee2545 - Jan 23, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    The wings get better and better where are the black hawks in the standings

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