Blues vs. Red Wings: First Place Up for Grabs

Two of the hottest teams in hockey collide Monday night at Joe Louis Arena, as the Red Wings welcome in the Blues for a huge Central Division clash.

Detroit has won six straight overall and a franchise-record 16 in a row at home, a run that’s been good enough to place the Wings atop the Western Conference by the slimmest of margins. St. Louis, meanwhile, has yet to lose in January — the Blues are 8-0-1 since the new year began, and goalie Jaroslav Halak has gone 11-0-3 in his previous 14.

Monday night’s winner will hold both the Central Division lead and top spot in the Western Conference standings.

Scouting St. Louis: It starts with Halak, who has combined with Brian Elliott to give the Blues one of the game’s premier 1-2 goalie tandems.

The Blues’ offense is deeper than people will give it credit for — David Backes leads the way with 37 points (16 G, 21 A), but St. Louis has six players with 10 or more goals. Alexander Steen has netted three goals in three games vs. Detroit, though he won’t play Monday because of a concussion, while Jason Arnott has four assists in four games.

Andy McDonald and Kent Huskins also will miss this game due to injury.

Watching the Wings: Aside from Patrick Eaves, who continues to sit after taking a puck to the face several weeks ago, the Red Wings are healthy. and got nods in Saturday’s lineup over and , so we’ll have to see if that stays the same.

will make another start in net for Detroit, his 41st of the year. He has a shot at win No. 30 on the season, if the Wings can hold serve at home again.

Detroit also will have in the lineup — there was some concern that the Wings’ alternate captain might receive a suspension after he was ejected for boarding in Saturday’s win over Columbus

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