Apr 4, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Michal Handzus (26) faces off against St. Louis Blues right wing Adam Cracknell (79) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
This will be the first of five regular season matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and their inarguable biggest rival, in the new Central Division, the St. Louis Blues. Both teams figure to be battling for the divisional crown, so this will be the first of what will likely be 5 pivotal matchups, during the course of the season.
Along with the Blackhawks, the Blues are considered to be an elite team, in not just the Central Division, but arguably, also the entire NHL. The Blues are off to a 2-0-0 start to the season, good for 4 points on the season, thus far, as they look to take advantage of a 5-game home-stand to start the season. So far, so good, but tonight will be their biggest challenge, of the home-stand. In their last game, the Blues absolutely blew out the Florida Panthers, by a score of 7-0, with goaltender Jaroslav Halak becoming the Blues franchise leader in shutouts, with 17. Lead by captain David Backes, the Blues are trying to establish themselves as a legitimate elite team in the NHL. The blowout over the Panthers is a start, but a victory over the Blackhawks would mean much more.
The Blackhawks were off to a great start to the young season, with an emotional opening night win, over the Washington Capitals, on the night they raised the banner, commemorating their 2013 Stanley Cup Championship, to the United Center rafters. The Hawks dominated play against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Penalty Kill failures lead to them losing the game, in the shootout. The Hawks look to prevent any sort of a slide from starting, and a huge win, in their first road game of the season, especially in St. Louis, would help cleanse their pallet, of the poor finish, against the Lightning. So far, Brandon Saad is leading the way, offensively, for the Hawks, with 4 points, in two games.
The Blackhawks/Blues rivalry was already one of the better rivalries, in the NHL, and now, with the new NHL divisional realignment, the rivalry looks to be on the rise, yet again. With both teams figuring to be in the thick of the divisional race, throughout the season, you won’t want to miss tonight’s game.