stlouis_blues_logoAfter a ridiculously fast start on the power play, during which St. Louis led the NHL in power-play efficiency for much of the early weeks of the 2008-09 season, the Blues power play has settled into seventh in the league heading into tonight’s visit by the Boston Bruins to Scottrade Center. That’s still pretty potent for a team near the bottom of the overall NHL standings.

So more than ever it’ll be important for the Bruins to stay out of the penalty box tonight. They started out on that track poorly yesterday against Carolina but then rectified the situation. Still without Andrew Ference and Aaron Ward on defense, and probably now short Patrice Bergeron up front, the ranks of the Bruins’ proficient penalty-killers has been diminished.

The best way to attack St. Louis tonight is to exploit their shorthanded defense (missing Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer, Jay McKee) with dump-ins and speed — a formula that has worked plenty for Boston before.

Season series: This is the first of two meetings this season between the Bruins and Blues. St. Louis will visit Boston Jan. 19. Last season, the Blues won the only meeting between the two clubs, 4-1, at the Garden.

St. Louis Player to Watch: While some Bruins fans will be curious to watch former Boston forward Brad Boyes all night and try to figure out if the hometown team could’ve somehow pried away Dennis Wideman without surrendering the player who currently leads St. Louis is scoring with 16-15-31 totals, the man they should be watching is the veteran Keith Tkachuk. Somehow the 36-year-old is still plowing ahead, and he’s second on the Blues with 12-11-23 numbers. For his career, Tkachuk is better than a point-per-game performer with 30 points (14-16) in 23 games against Boston. He’ll be a load to handle in front of the Bruins net, especially if Boston finds itself shorthanded often. Eight of Tkachuk’s 12 goals have come on the power play.