Apr 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on a shot from St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie (74) during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Blackhawks and St Louis Blues face off tonight for the first time this season. To get ready for this Central Division matchup we sat down with Patrick Karraker from the St Louis Fansided site Arch Authority to see their take of the St Louis Blues and their start to the season. Here is how our conversation went!
BU 1. How severe do you believe Paul Stastny‘s injury to be?
AA 1. The Blues are terming Stastny’s injury “week-to-week”, but it doesn’t sound like something that is going to cause him to miss an extended amount of time. He was originally in a sling after hurting his shoulder Saturday, but he’s since shed it. I do believe that the Blues will be extra cautious in making sure that he’s ready since it’s so early in the season, but I’d put a rough estimate on his return at some time next week. The Blues put him on IR on Friday afternoon, but it’s retroactive, so they can bring him back whenever he’s ready.
BU 2. Who has stepped up so far in Paul Stastny’s absence and who needs to step up moving forward into Saturdays matchup vs. the Blackhawks?
AA 2. Quite frankly, no one has stepped up, as the Blues only have one goal in their past two games. If anything, I suppose that you could say that rookie goalie Jake Allen stepped up against Vancouver to stay as composed as he did over the course of the game.
The player who the Blues most need to return to form is T.J. Oshie, who has no points to open the season. Beyond that, they could really use a boost from their defensemen, who have been pretty inconsistent to open the season.
BU 3. Are you concerned at all with the Blues’ performance in the regular season last year, or would you be content with a finish similar to that In 2014-15?
AA 3. Other than the ridiculous streak of injuries which caused the Blues to fall apart over the final month, the regular season last year was a success, and I think the Blues would be content with a similar finish this year. The only pressing issue is making sure that they don’t ensure a third straight first-round playoff exit, which could put the current regime at risk.
BU 4. Does last few years disappointing playoffs have any lingering effects and causing the slow start this year?
AA. 4. I wouldn’t attribute the slow start to the playoffs last year. I think there are two key factors: first of all, the Blues have had a team-wide illness that’s kept certain players out and held other ones back on the ice. In addition to that, in what I guess you could trace back a bit to the lack of offense in the Chicago series last year, the Blues have changed their offensive approach this year and haven’t really had a chance to put it all together yet. They’re relying on more finesse offensive players to guide them, and with two key players of that style, Stastny and Jori Lehtera, having missed time, it’s cut into their opportunities to mesh. In turn, they’ve given extended time to guys like a slumping Oshie and Magnus Paajarvi, who haven’t really provided offense or physicality, which just weakens the attack overall. I’ll be more concerned if the slump continues once the Blues have Stastny back in the fold.
BU 5. Anybody new on the roster we should keep our eye on tonight?
AA 5. The Blues recalled forward Dmitrij Jaskin from AHL Chicago on Friday, which makes me believe that he’ll be in the lineup tonight as opposed to just being a healthy scratch.
Blackhawks fans may remember Jaskin for his signature moment last year, a goal in the Blues’ Dec. 28 defeat of the Hawks, which was the first of his career and his only goal of the season. The Blues will be relying on the 21-year-old to hopefully breathe some life into the offense with his scoring potential.
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BU 6. What is your gameday prediction?
AA 6. As much as I’d like to think that the Blues’ offense is going to bounce back against Chicago, they’ve looked so lifeless lately that I can’t pick them in good confidence. I’d expect a Blackhawks win on Saturday.
Thanks again to Patrick for taking time out to answer our questions! What do you think of the answers? Game Time is right around the corner from St Louis!
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