Oct 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) watches St. Louis Blues center T.J. Oshie (74) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Look to Make Statement to Rival St. Louis Blues


Let’s be honest.

Barring an unforeseen miracle, the Chicago Blackhawks WILL NOT win the Central Division, this season.  Nope, that honor would be bestowed upon the hated St. Louis Blues.  

Done throwing up?

Okay, not winning the division is unfortunate, but overall, not a huge deal, since the playoffs are a certainty, for the Blackhawks.  However, since tonight’s game against the Blues will not have big standings implications, between the two teams, that doesn’t make this game any less important.

The road to the Stanley Cup, for the Hawks, will likely go through St. Louis, this year, so figuring out how to beat the Blues is a must.  Beating the Blues hasn’t been easy, for the Hawks, this season, as they hold a record of 0-1-2, against the Blues, this season.

Plus, beating the Blues just feels good.

Let’s look at how both teams matchup, against each other.

Teame
Goals For Per Game
Goals Against Per Game
Power Play Percentage
Penalty Kill Percentage
Faceoff Winning Percentage
Corsi For Percentage
Blackhawks 3.30(1st in NHL)2.52(11th in NHL)20.6%(7th in NHL)81.0%(20th in NHL)52.0%(5th in NHL)55.5%(2nd in NHL)
Blues3.21(2nd in NHL)2.19(3rd in NHL)20.8%(3rd in NHL)86.3%(2nd in NHL)51.1%(11th in NHL)52.6%(7th in NHL)

This doesn’t happen much.  The Blues definitely have the advantage, in this game.  It’s difficult not to be in awe of the Blues’ success, this season, as they are a top-3 team, in Goals For and Goals Against, and they are a top-3 team, in both Special Teams categories, as well.  St. Louis is also an elite puck possession team, but not as elite as the Hawks are, which is the edge that the Hawks will have to push, if they want to win, tonight.

The Blues are currently leading the Central Division, with 101 points, which is 8 points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche and the Blackhawks, while holding a game in hand, on both teams.

St. Louis is a high-scoring team that has a committee of leading scorers.  Olympic shootout hero, T.J Oshieis currently leading the Blues, in points.  Even after missing several games, Alex Steen leads the team with 30 goals, this season.  Rounding out the Blues’ center depth is Jaden Schwartzwho is only has 3 less points than the team-leader, Oshie.  Captain David Backes has had a strong offensive season and is well-known for his chippy, not-so-friendly style of play.  The Blues will likely be without Vladimir Taresenko, who in his 2nd season, is a young, dynamic scorer, who figures to only get better with age, will be missed, tonight.  The blueline is anchored by Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk.  Both have provided offense through their puck-moving abilities.

In net, for the Blues, will be the newly acquired star, Ryan Miller.  Miller has been fantastic this season, especially since being traded to St. Louis, where he is 7-0-1, with a 1.61 Goals Against Average, and a .933 Save Percentage.

The Blackhawks are coming off an overtime loss, where they were outplayed, by the Philadelphia Flyers, just last night.  The best medicine, to cure a bad performance, is to get right back at it, and get a big win against your biggest rival.  The Hawks are looking to do just that.

Jonathan Toews will look to continue his torrid pace that he has been on since the Olympics, as he closes in on 30 goals, on the season.  Streaky scorer, Patrick Sharpwho is currently in a relatively mild cold-streak, could snap into one of his scorching hot scoring streaks, anytime now, and there’s no better time than tonight.  Speaking of streaky, Bryan Bickellwho has struggled to live up to his big contract extension, this season, has been known to play big, in big games, and tonight is a big game.  Patrick Kane was having a fantastic game, last night in Philadelphia, should be able to pick it right back up, tonight.  Marian Hossa’s return to the lineup was huge, in the previous win, against the Detroit Red Wings, and his elite 2-way play is vital for the Hawks’ success against the all-around dominant Blues.

In net, tonight, will be Corey Crawfordwho was given the night off, last night, in favor of Antti Raantafor the sole purpose of being ready-to-go, for tonight’s game, against the Blues.  Crawford has been great, this season, as he has put up a .918 Save Percentage, in 49 games played, this season.

While there is still hope for the miracle of the Blackhawks rallying to win the Central Division, this season, but in all honesty, that likely won’t happen.  The Blues have too big of a lead and have been playing way too strong lately for Hawks fans to have any realistic aspirations of winning the Central.  However, a win tonight, wouldn’t be any less important, for the Hawks, as making a statement, before the playoffs, could go a long ways.  There will be one final matchup, between the Hawks and Blues, after tonight’s game, unless the 2 teams meet, in the post-season.

These games are always exciting, and tonight will be no exception.

 

Tags: Central Division Chicago Blackhawks Featured Jonathan Toews Playoff Push Popular Rivalry Ryan Miller

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