Mar 29, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) checks St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the overtime period at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Game # 3 (Home opener) St. Louis Blues (2-0-0, 4 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (2-0-0, 4 pts)
Radio- WGN 720 AM
Time– 7:30 PM Central Time
Preview- This will be the home opener at the United Center for the Blackhawks, as they hope to continue their winning ways as they host their also undefeated division-rivals, the St. Louis Blues. Last season, the Blackhawks won four out of six games against the Central-Division champion Blues.
The St. Louis Blues, are off to a scorching-hot start to the 2013 season. In their home opener, they dismantled the Detroit Red Wings by blowing them out to a score of 6-0.
Last night, the Blues hit the road to take on the Nashville Predators, where they won a much tighter contest, a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout victory. The Blues, known as a stingy defensive team, under head coach Ken Hitchcock’s guidance, managed an impressive 39 shots on goal agaisnt the similarly defensive-minded Predators. The Blues might have a little bit more of an offensive spark this season, with rookie Right Winger, Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko might be the coveted sniper that the Blues so desperately need. So far this season he has 3 goals and 2 assists(5pts). Don’t expect him to keep up his amazing shot percentage of 37.5% all season, but Tarasenko along with returning veterans from last season: David Backes, T.J Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, and several others should make a run for another Central-Division title this season.
Also in last night’s game, coach Hitchcock pulled starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak in the second period for “backup” Brian Elliot. Last season, the Blues alternated their starting goaltenders with incredible success. Jaroslav Halak(46 starts last season) and Brian Elliot(36 starts last season) had outstanding GAAs(Goals Against Average) of 1.97 and 1.56, respectively. The dynamic-duo known as “The Two Headed Monster” had one of the best seasons for a duo of goaltenders that the NHL has seen in a long time. The Hawks will have to figure out Brian Elliot tonight. It will be interesting to see the duo fares this season.
The Blackhawks are off to an equally hot start this season, after spoiling the Los Angeles Kings‘ Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony with a 5-2 victory. The following night, the Hawks came out on top, 6-4, in a back-and-forth revenge-fest against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Hawks appear to be firing on all cylinders coming out of the gate with their big stars putting up explosive production thus far. Marian Hossa appears to be fully recovered(knock-on-wood) from a nasty concussion received in last years post-season. Hossa, with 4 goals and 1 assist (5pts) is leading the way for the Hawks, along with Patrick Kane (1G, 3A, 4pts), who looks to be in tip-top-shape after a brief stint in Switzerland, during the lockout. Dave Bolland is also off to a great start as the 2nd line center with 2 goals and an assist(3pts). You can always count on Jonathan Toews to produce(1G, 1A, 2pts), but his biggest contribution thus far to the 2013 campaign(other than his leadership), has got to be his incredible 61.2% in the Face-Off circle. Look for Michal Roszival to get the start as the 6th defenseman tonight after a 2 point night against Phoenix.
Corey Crawford will be in the crease for the Hawks tonight. He played pretty solid against Los Angeles on Saturday, which is really saying something if you look at the overall quality of goaltending across the NHL so far this season. Crawford will look to continue his bounce-back campaign tonight, and the Blues will be a great test for him. No better way to build confidence than to shutdown a division rival and division favorite all in the same night!
Prediction- It will be a packed house at the U.C. tonight, the Hawks will have to keep their emotions in check and focus in order to beat a very good St. Louis team. Hopefully the Hawks can take advantage of the fact that Brian Elliot is unexpectedly playing back-to-back nights; this might be a common occurrence with this season’s schedule. It should be a good, tightly contested game. Hawks win 4-3.