Dec 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) checks St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie (74) off the puck during the third period at Scottrade Center. The St. Louis Blues defeat Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
2) T.J. Oshie
The American Hero has had a rough start to his 2014-2015 campaign. In six games, Oshie has yet to score a point and is a minus-3 player. After posting career highs in goals, assists and points, his struggles are a bit alarming. Just like Elliot, Oshie is a key part of any long run in the playoffs the Blues may have. With teams like the Hawks, Wild, Stars, Sharks and Kings, T.J. Oshie is going to have to perform at a high level to compete with them.
1) Kris Versteeg
Versteeg was just reintroduced into the lineup after being sidelined with an injury that forced him to miss the start of the season. He has been placed on a line with Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane as the Hawks 2nd line. Versteeg is a key Hawk because of who he plays with. Versteeg doesn’t have to be what he used to be, but he needs to play at a high enough level that Patrick Kane’s game is able to thrive. That shouldn’t be asking much of Versteeg. But there are a ton of players behind him that would love the opportunity to skate with Kane every game (Brandon Saad is the perfect example).
The Blackhawks and the Blues are two star-studded teams in the NHL and are prepared for their first of many duels tonight. The players listed above are just some of the key players that will make or break which of these two teams goes further in the playoffs. While it may seem like just another regular season game, tonight’s battle can go a long way in determining the fate of the Central Division and the Western Conference.