Playoff Preview: Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues Goaltenders and Special Teams Preview

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Mar 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) is congratulated by center Jonathan Toews (19) for a victory against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed the previous Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues forwards preview or defensemen preview, you can check them out here and here.

The Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues will raise their hated rivalry to new levels, starting Thursday, when these teams start their playoff series, against one another.  Both teams are considered Stanley Cup contenders, as many expect them to make deep playoff runs.  However, since they are meeting in the first round, one team will have the chance to make a Cup run, and the other will be a first round exit disappointment.

Who will it be?

Let’s find out.

Here we will preview the goaltenders and special teams matchups, between the Blackhawks and Blues.

Here’s what the Blackhawks’ goaltenders have done this season.

Player
Games Played
Record
Goals Against Average
Save Percentage
Corey Crawford5932-16-102.260.917
Antti Raanta2513-5-42.710.897

Corey Crawford had a fantastic season, for the Hawks.  He was clutch, and made big saves when the Hawks needed him to.  Don’t listen to the “Crawford sucks” meatballs, out there.  Crawford has been great, and figures to continue to be great, in this series.  If he doesn’t, then the Hawks are in big trouble, as Antti Raanta is not ready for NHL post-season action.

Raanta was great, when he filled in for Crawford, when he was injured, but he struggled as the backup goaltender.  Raanta has high upside, and will eventually be a very good goaltender, in the NHL, however that time is not now, even though he showed some flashes of greatness.  If the Hawks are forced to go to Raanta, it likely means the Hawks are on their way to being eliminated.

Here’s what the Blues’ goaltenders have done this season.

Player
Games Played
Record
Goals Against Average
Save Percentage
Ryan Miller(with St. Louis)1910-8-12.470.903
Brian Elliot3118-6-21.960.922

Overall, Ryan Miller’s numbers are pretty ugly, especially for such a high-priced trade deadline acquisition.  However, it would be foolish to expect him to continue playing this poorly, in the playoffs, for the Blues.  His numbers are troubling though.  When Miller first arrived in St. Louis, he was on fire and so were the Blues.  It didn’t stick around though, as the Blues and Miller limped their way to game #82, as they fell into 2nd place, in the Central Division.  A short break, and a return to post-season hockey will likely snap Miller out of his slump, but you never know.

Brian Elliot was very good this season, as a backup to both Jaroslav Halak and Miller.  However, much like with Raanta, if the Blues are forced to go with Elliot, it likely means they are the path to elimination, from the playoffs.  Elliot, though, is a solid, dependable, goaltender.

In all honesty, the Hawks have the advantage, when it comes to goaltending.  If someone said this 2 weeks ago, they would have been called crazy, but they would have likely been correct.

Crawford has made a Cup run and has a Cup to show for it.  Miller has not and does not.  Crawford had a great season, and finished strong.  Miller had his moments and finished the season in horrible fashion.

Need I say more?

Head to page 2 for the Special Teams preview.

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Playoffs Preview Rivalry Ryan Miller

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