Blackhawks News

Playoff Preview: Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues Defensemen Preview

By Brian Kinkade
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Apr 6, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) is pursued by St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz (9) during the third period at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed yesterday’s Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues forwards preview, you can check it out 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.

In this article, we will take a look at the defensemen, of the Blackhawks and the Blues, as they prepare for the much anticipated playoff series, against one another.

Here’s a look at what the Blackhawks’ defensemen have done, this season.

[table id=36 /]

Just like the Hawks’ forwards, all of the Hawks’ defensemen have Corsi For Percentages, above 50%.  This isn’t exactly shocking, seeing as how the Hawks were ranked 2nd, in the NHL, with a team Corsi For Percentage of 55.2%.

Michal Rozsival leads the way, in Corsi For, which may come as a bit of a surprise.  In all honesty, Rozsival was a bit sheltered, throughout the season, with matchups, against opponents.  He played limited minutes and missed time with injury.   With all due respect to Rozsival, his Corsi For may be a little misleading.

Nick Leddy, who was often paired with Rozsival, was slightly sheltered, but not completely.  Most of Leddy’s deployment, from Head Coach Joel Quenneville, was strategical.  Leddy typically started his shifts, in the offensive zone, due to his patience with the puck, and good offensive instincts, and as a result, he was on the ice and helped create more scoring chances, for the Hawks.

Brent Seabrook, who didn’t exactly have his best season, I don’t care what Eddie O’ says, Seabrook was a bit off, this season.  He wasn’t terrible, by any means.  The high Corsi For, is largely due to the luxury of playing with the supreme puck-mover/ice-tilter, Duncan Keith.  Seabrook still posessed that booming shot, which turned out to be so clutch, in last year’s playoffs, and he also brings physicality, to his game.  Look for Seabrook to turn it around, and have an excellent post-season.

Duncan Keith had a Norris quality season, in 2013-2014.  He is the motor that propels the Hawks attack, and is arguably the most important player, on the roster.  Keith get’s the puck moving, and is the most vital cog, in the Hawks’ puck-possession excellence.  Keith also has one of the most active sticks, in the NHL, and can strip the puck from opponents, with the best of them.  Where Keith goes, so do the Hawks.  It was fourtunate that he got lots of rest, as Coach Q will be relying on him heavily, throughout the playoffs.

While Keith had a Norris worthy season, Niklas Hjalmarsson was the best defensive defenseman, for the Hawks, all-season.  Hjalmarsson is one of the best shot blockers, in the NHL.  He starts most of his shifts, in the defensive zone, due to his defense-first instincts, and his shot-blocking ability.  With this in mind, it is very impressive that he was able to churn out a above 50% Corsi For Percentage.

Johnny Oduya was brought in to be an offensive defenseman, but he has settled in as Hjalmarsson’s partner, on the blueline, with a defense-first mentality.  Oduya makes his mistakes, as he is an offensively-minded defenseman, but he is also a big reason Hjalmarsson was able to achieve an above 50% Corsi For, as he is able to move the puck efficiently.

Head to the next page for a look at the Blues’ defensemen.