Apr 19, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie (74) attempts to get past Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Get your pop corn ready. Tonight will be the Chicago Blackhawks first look at the 2014-2015 St. Louis Blues. These games are always infuriating, fun, frustrating, and if everything goes right, worthy of a legitimate celebration. Hawks vs Blues is as good as it gets when both teams are playing well, so tonight should be interesting to say the least.
You can watch tonight’s game on WGN-Chicago, and you can listen to it on WGN 720 AM as well as 87.7 FM The Game.
It’s already interesting, as the Blues are in a sort of dire straits, entering tonight’s game. As of right now, the Blues hold a 2-3-1 record, which has them in 6th place in the Central Division. However, it’s not all the Blues fault…seriously. There has been a virus lurking it’s way through the Blues locker room, which has left them without some key players. David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Jay Bouwmeester, and Vladimir Tarasenko all dealing with this sickness, which leaves their availability in serious question for tonight’s game. Also, big free agent acquisition, Paul Stastny will be out tonight, as he is on the Injured Reserve list. These are huge losses for the Blues, which will leave them with what is essentially a glorified AHL roster. Rival or not, this is unfortunate and you sort of have to feel for them. However, the Blues will still have Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk on the blueline, which every team in the NHL wishes they could say, so don’t feel too bad for these guys.
In net for the Blues will be Brian Elliot. In four games played, Elliot has a very good .924 Save Percentage.
The Hawks will have to rebound from their first regulation loss, on Thursday night, against the Nashville Predators. Depleted roster or not, beating the Blues is a definite cure-all. The Hawks lineup figures to be the same, at least at the start of the game, with Jonathan Toews centering Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. The 2nd and 3rd lines will likely change throughout the game, with different combinations of Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Kris Versteeg, Brad Richards and Bryan Bickell. Eventually, Richards should get going, and maybe a big night against a injury/sickeness riddled Blues roster is the spark he needs.
Hawks vs Blues is Hawks vs Blues no matter how you slice it. Wins against divisional oppenents are always more valuable than against non-divisional opponents, so the Hawks should be plenty motivated and will have only themselves to blame if they lose.