Mar 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) plays the puck against St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the first period at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Honestly, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks are facing their now most bitter rivals, the St. Louis Blues, with only a handful of games remaining, in the regular season. However, both teams have all but secured their respective places, in the Central Division standings, so there is little at stake here.
Still, though, it’s Hawks vs. Blues; it’s always interesting.
Let’s see how they matchup
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Statistically this matchup is almost a wash. However, we have to consider that the Blues have an advantage, as two of the biggest factors, in the Hawks impressive numbers, won’t be playing in this one. Both teams are among the best, in every category, except for Penalty Killing, where the Hawks are middle of the road. However, the Hawks Penalty Kill is much improved. This will be an interesting game.
The Blues have all but clinched the Central Division title and are just coasting their way to the playoffs, trying to stay healthy. As a result, the Blues have played some lackluster hockey lately, and could be vulnerable, especially having suffered a defeat to the Colorado Avalanche, just yesterday. St. Louis is lead by captain, David Backes, who adds good offense, as well as some chippy arguably dirty play. Alex Steen leads the Blues, in points, but is currently out, with an injury. With Steen out, Jaden Schwartz has stepped up, as he continues to develop into a bigger offensive threat. Olympic hero/shootout extraordinaire, T.J Oshie, is having the best season of his career. The Blues’ blueline is anchored by Alex Pietreangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jay Boumeester, as they round out one of the best d-corps in the entire NHL.
In net, for the Blues, will likely be backup, Brian Elliot, since Ryan Miller got the start, yesterday, against Colorado. Elliot has been great, this season, posting a .922 Save Percentage, in 29 games played.
The Blackhawks are trying to stay healthy, as they are all but assured a 1st round matchup, against the Avalanche. With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both out with injuries, the Hawks have reverted to a more simplistic syle of hockey, which could help them, in the long-run. Reaping the benefits of absence of Kane and Toews are Ben Smith and Bryan Bickell, who have been playing fantastically, in expanded roles. Jeremy Morin has been able to find much deserved playing time, and has excelled, with it.
In net, for the Hawks will most likely be Corey Crawford. This season, Crawford has been great, as he has put up a .918 Save Percentage, in 56 games played.
While the stakes are low, the usual excitement of Hawks vs. Blues may be lost, but it’s still sort of special. This will be the last time these teams face each other, unless they meet, in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Even though their fates are basically sealed, it’s still fun beating the Blues.