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Chicago Blackhawks Vs. St. Louis Blues: Buckle Up For This One!

By Gail Kauchak
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Dec 3, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) and St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny (26) fight for a face off during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a fan of intense hockey games, you might want to park yourself in front of the TV tonight!  It’s Wednesday night rivalry on NBCSN, and the network finally has it right for this one!  The Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues will square off at 7 pm tonight at the United Center.  Being in the same Conference and Division, these two clubs go way back, with a lot of regular season games and playoff series history between them.  Needless to say, they have quite the aversion to each other.  There are certain teams in which the Hawks tend to ramp up their intensity.  The St. Louis Blues are one of those teams.  I think it would be safe to say the Blues will be more than willing to oblige.

Either team might tell you this is just another game, but I beg to differ.  The Blues are currently 8-3-1, for 17 points, and second place in the Central Division.  Whereas the Blackhawks are 7-5-0, for 14 points and sixth place in the division.  Why does this game matter to the Blues if they are so far ahead in the standings?  Because a win by the Blackhawks puts them only 1 point behind the Blues, and every point counts in this very competitive division, even this early on.  But the real reason is because the Hawks knocked the Blues out of the playoffs in the 2013-14 Conference Quarterfinals.  It was a very physical and intense 6 game series, with the Hawks coming out on top 4 games to 2.  Neither team is likely to forget that series any time soon.

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The frosting on the cake is that the Blues fell to the LA Kings last night.  Not only did they lose, but they were shut out by a score of 3-0.  I’m guessing they might be a little angry, and who better to take it out on than the Chicago Blackhawks?  The good news for the Hawks it that hopefully they can take advantage of having fresher legs later in the game.

My meathead hockey co-worker has a habit of reminding me who the tough guys/agitators are on the opposing team before each game (because of course he does!)  Today he brought up the names of Blues’ players David Backes, Ryan Reaves, and Troy Brouwer.

Backes and Reaves are both known for being big, hard-hitting players.  I bring up Brouwer because, being a former Blackhawk, he may have some extra incentive to be nasty.  Plus he led his team by committing 2 penalties last night.

But my friend and I didn’t even hit the surface!  When I looked at the Blues roster, they have 4 players with over 10 minutes of penalty time so far this year.  Steve Ott has 2 major and 6 minor penalties, adding up to 32 penalty minutes.  This is fourth in the league!  Joel Edmundson has 18 penalty minutes, Alexander Steen has 12, and Robert Bortuzzo has 11.

For comparison’s sake, the Chicago Blackhawks only have one player over the 10 minute mark in penalties.  That is Ryan Garbutt, with 13 minutes.  Geez, I’m thinking if the Hawks play it right, they might get some power play time!  No time like the present to work out those power play glitches!

It is true that the St. Louis Blues are known for being a very physical team to play against.  They use their size and forechecking to try to shut down their opponent.  Whereas the Chicago Blackhawks like to use their skill and speed to out-play their opponent.  Who’s going to win out tonight?  We’ll just have to watch and see.  So buckle up everybody, there should be a lot of emotion and intensity in this one.  Enjoy the game; hopefully we’ll enjoy the outcome!

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