Chicago Blackhawks to Wrap Up Season Series with St. Louis Blues

By Brian Kinkade

Feb 8, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) scores a goal on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In all likelihood, this won’t be the last time the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues face each other before next season.  However, that’s getting a little too ahead of ourselves.  There’s still plenty of playoff seeding at stake tonight.

This will be the final game of the 5-game season series between the Hawks and Blues.  So far, the teams have split the first 4 games of the series with the Blue winning the most recent meeting this past Saturday in Chicago.  Tonight’s game will be in St. Louis and puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago 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 now a below average team and dropping.  Tonight, they will try to score against a great Blues defense.

Defensively, the Hawks are the 2nd best in the league and it is what’s been keeping them in games lately.  Tonight, they will be tasked with shutting down a top-5 offense in the Blues.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have been quite inconsistent and overall bad.  They will have to find a way to score against a very good St. Louis Penalty Kill.

The Hawks’ Penalty Kill has been overall great but not so much lately.  Tonight they will be matched up with a Blues Power Play that is the elite class.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been excellent but tonight they will be taking draws against a Blues team that has been even better.

In terms of puck-possession/generating scoring chances/preventing opponent’s scoring chances, the Hawks have been great all season.  They will be facing a St. Louis squad that has been a bit above-average in this category this season.

On paper, the advantage goes to the Blues.  Statistically, St. Louis is a better team, but that’s not to say the Hawks don’t have a chance tonight.  The Hawks have solid numbers and will be in this game to the very end.  It doesn’t help that the game is in St. Louis but at the same time it didn’t help the Hawks that Saturday’s game was in Chicago.  So, who knows?  The Hawks want this one, that’s for sure.

The Blues are 49-24-7 with 105 points, which is good for 1st place in the Central Division.  Currently, they lead the 2nd place Nashville Predators by one point and the 3rd place Blackhawks by 3 points.  All three teams have only 2 games remaining, and a win tonight will clinch home-ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs for the Blues.

Once again, the Blues will be without two of their top-scoring forwards: Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen.  The Blues will still have David Backes and Jaden Schwartz, so scoring will still be quite possible, as well as annoying hi-jinks.  Alex Pietrangelo might be the most important player for the Blues.  The defenseman does it al for the Blues, in every situation and always leads the team in time-on-ice.

Starting in net for the Blues will be Jake Allen.  Allen appears to be the guy going forward into the playoff for the Blues.  Allen has a very “meh” .912 Save Percentage in 36 games this season but has a fantastic .950 Save Percentage over his last 5 games.

The Hawks are 48-26-6 with 102 points, which is good for 3rd place in the Central Division.  With only 2 games remaining, the Hawks are 3 points behind the 1st place Blues and 2 points behind the 2nd place Predators.  Home-ice would be nice and it’s still very possible in the 1st round.

Jonathan Toews is looking to break his 2-game pointless streak which has followed a hot-streak.  After a streak of 5 points in his previous 4 games, Marian Hossa went without a point against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.  Johnny Oduya’s resurgence might be the most promising story of the Hawks’ 2nd half of the season.  He will be needed going into the playoffs.  Marcus Kruger will miss tonight’s game as he is out with an illness.

Starting in net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has a sparkling .924 Save Percentage in 56 games played this season and is arguable the Hawks’ MVP of the season.

Hawks and Blues is always fun and holding them back from winning the division will be even more fun.  Plus, the Hawks could win the season-series between the Blues tonight.  That would be nice to hold us over until the playoffs start.

Go Hawks!