No cruise vs. Blues

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

The Maple Leafs will try tonight to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games against a club which has been perfect against the Eastern Conference.

The St. Louis Blues have taken a liking to inter-conference matches, going 4-0 so far against the East.

"Toronto ... it's an exciting opportunity," Blues coach Andy Murray told reporters after practice yesterday. "I didn't know they came to St. Louis anymore. It's exciting to have the Maple Leafs, one of the Original Six teams ... when you started out being a hockey fan, you were either a Leafs fan or a (Montreal) Canadiens fan when you were in Canada."

No matter how little the Leafs have seen of the Blues -- it's their first visit to Missouri in more than four years -- there is no denying they will have to be on their toes at the Scottrade Center.

The Leafs have won seven of their past eight road games, but under Murray, who took over from the fired Mike Kitchen in December, the Blues are playing an organized and disciplined brand of hockey.

The Blues are 12 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but are 14-7-4 since Murray went behind the bench.

"When you play Buffalo and Ottawa, and you are putting the gear on, you know what kind of game you are going to get," said Leafs coach Paul Maurice, who was going heavy on video study with his players.

"Here, you don't have a sense of that. They are a much better team than they were a month and a half ago, and you make sure your team does not think it is going to be easy."

Maurice said he would decide after the morning skate today whether winger Boyd Devereaux, who is ready to return after missing three games because of a slight ankle sprain, would be put into the lineup. If Devereaux plays, it's probable Kris Newbury would be out.

If tonight is a test for Toronto, then the game in Nashville on Thursday will be a major challenge. The Predators, with Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan leading the charge and Tomas Vokoun and Chris Mason providing an excellent one-two punch in goal, are atop the National Hockey League with 77 points.

"St. Louis is coming around, and who would have thought Nashville would have the most points in the NHL?" Matt Stajan said.

"If (Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft) keeps playing like he is, he will give us a chance to win both night and we have to do our job by scoring goals. Our focus has to be on ourselves, not who we are playing."


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