Chicago Blackhawks Host St. Louis Blues in Crucial Central Showdown

By Brian Kinkade

What better way to celebrate Easter than to watch the Chicago Blackhawks take on the hated St. Louis Blues? Today’s game will go a long way in deciding each team’s respective finish in the Central Divsion standings.  Each team needs this one.  This should be fun.

This will be the 4th game of the 5-game season series between the Hawks and Blues.  At this point, the Hawks have won 2 of the first 3 games against the Blues.  Tonight’s game will be played in Chicago and puck drop is set for 6:30 PM Central Time.  The game can be seen on NBC-SN and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Blues.

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Offensively, the Hawks are average overall and tonight they face a very good Blues defense.

Defensively, the Hawks are the 2nd best in the league and they will be tasked with shutting down a St. Louis offense that is in the elite class.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have been sub-par and they will be facing a very good Blues Penalty Kill.

For the Hawks, their Penalty Kill has been excellent all season and tonight they will have to shut down an elite St. Louis Power Play.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have found great success and tonight they will be taking draws against a Blues team that has been the best in the league at taking draws.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are great and they will be fighting for the puck with a Blues team that has been solid at controlling where the puck is.

On paper, the Blues have the advantage.  They really are a complete team and the Hawks can be.  These teams bring out the best and worst in each other, so there is a lot between these two that simply can’t be quantified.  This will be interesting and this will be fun.

The Blues are 48-23-7 with 103 points, which is good for 2nd place in the Central Division.  Currently, they are one point behind the Nashville Predators(who have played one more game than the Blues) and one point ahead of the Hawks.

David Backes is the first name that comes to mind after one thinks of the modern era of the Blues.  Backes has a 2-game point streak going and 56 points in 77 games.  It’s not all about points with Backes, as he’s an absolute pain in the a$# to play against and is fun to hate.

Most of the Blues offense comes from their top-line(like most hockey teams) which consists of Paul Stastny centering Jaden Schwartz and TJ Oshie.  Schwartz and Oshie each have 6 points in their last 4 games respectively while Stastny is an elite faceoff winner.  On the blueline, the Blues are as deep as any team with the likes of Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk as the headliners.

The Blues will be without leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko and could be without their 2nd leading scorer, Alex Steen.

Starting in net for the Blues will be Jake Allen.  Allen has split time with Brian Elliot this season, with Elliot getting the lion’s share of the starts.  Allen has struggled to the tune of a .907 Save Percentage in 34 starts.

The Hawks are 48-24-6 with 102 points, which is good for 3rd place in the Central.  Apologies for the redundancies, but the Hawks are 2 points behind the 1st place Predators(who have played one more game than the Hawks) and 1 point behind the 2nd place Blues.

Jonathan Toews has propelled the Hawks during this most recent hot streak.  Toews has 5 goals in his last 5 games as well as 6 points overall.  Toews’ linemate, Marian Hossa, has 5 points in his last 4 games.  Brandon Saad has quietly been on a point-per-game pace in the last 5 games.  Duncan Keith has 2 goals in his last 3 games and is part of the blueline corps that has picked up their offensive play during the current hot streak.

Starting in net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has a sparkling .924 Save Percentage in 54 games played.  In 17 career games against the Blues, Crawford has a .915 Save Percentage.

With Nashville idle tonight, 1st place in the Central Division is on the line.  Places one, two and three of the Central could all be occupied by different teams by the end of the night.  This will be fun.

Go Hawks!