Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

Hawks @ Blues--Who Wants It More?

April 9, 2015, 8:06 AM ET [119 Comments]
Corey Harvey
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Chicago Blackhawks (48-26-6) vs. St. Louis Blues (49-24-7) @ 7 p.m. CT on NBCSN.

Season Series: This is the fifth and final regular season meeting between the Blues and Hawks. The Blues are 2-2 through the first four, taking the most recent game on Sunday night. These teams are destined to play each other at some point in the first few rounds of the playoffs.

The Blues continue their three game homestand to finish off the regular season tonight against the Blackhawks. They dropped the first game of the homestand 1-0 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Lots of blown calls, phantom calls, and wrong calls by the officials likely cost the Blues at least a point. That being said, the Blues had plenty of other chances to score more than the goal that was disallowed. Ondrej Pavelec was great in goal for the Jets. His best save came on Jaden Schwartz with a wide open net. He somehow got the paddle of his stick on it. Slow starts in the first and second periods didn’t help the Blues game. Ultimately, the slow start in the second would lead to Winnipeg’s goal. Sure it wasn’t Jake Allen’s best goal given up, but he was great again the rest of the night and looks very confident. Looks as if he is going to start his third straight tonight against the Hawks.

The penalty kill continues to get the job done and that is great to see. The powerplay had a few chances and it is starting to look better. This time of year, penalty killing is much more important. The Blues had a lot of sloppy turnovers in the neutral and offensive zones. Credit to the Jets for good gap closure and line management. They didn’t want the Blues to skate the puck into the zone, and for the most part didn’t let them. The Blues will be again without Steen, Tarasenko, and Bortuzzo.

The Blues can clinch home ice in the first round with a win in any fashion tonight. If the Blues win and Nashville loses at home to Minnesota, the Blues clinch the Central division with one game remaining.

The Blackhawks come to St. Louis losers of two straight. They lost at home to the Blues on Sunday and Tuesday night at home to Minnesota by the score of 2-1. They are having trouble scoring goals and Corey Crawford has kept them afloat in games lately. They are sitting three points behind the Blues and two behind Nashville. They don’t like losing to the Blues and the Blues don’t like losing to the Hawks. I expect them to give their best efforts. They shutdown Brad Richards for the season and Kimmo Timonen is day to day. Corey Crawford is expected to start.

Keys to the Game: Faceoffs will be key in this one. The Blues didn’t have a very good night on the dot in the game Tuesday against Winnipeg and it cost them a lot of puck possession. Starting with the puck helps the team from chasing all night. The Blues need to play another full sixty minute game against the Hawks. It is clear that team does not like being hit and I would expect the Blues to want to do a lot of that. If Chicago wants to have home ice in the first round, they have to win tonight. Jake Allen’s play will be important. Another strong performance tonight could solidify his spot as the number one for Game 1. The Blues will have to do another good job of shutting down the Hawks’ stretch passes. Keeping everything to the outside defensively and making good decisions on the breakout will help the Blues greatly. If this game is anything like Sunday’s game, it will be an incredible game down to the finish. Protect the barn and get the two points Blues.

Players to Watch: Blues: Kevin Shattenkirk—His decisions have been great with the puck. The hands are still a little rusty.

David Backes—looking for another solid performance against the Hawks.

Paul Stastny—paired on the top line is doing him wonders.

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford—he has saved this team a lot of points over the last few months.

Antoine Vermette—with Richards out, his role gets bigger. He was invisible in the game Sunday.

Duncan Keith—hopefully he just keeps firing away into shinpads.
Join the Discussion: » 119 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Corey Harvey
» Random Notes and Breaking Down the Forward Lines
» More Moves on the Way?
» Positives and Negatives of the Summer Thus Far
» Blues Sign Kyle Brodziak, Oshie Traded to Caps
» Blues Resign Jori Lehtera and Chris Butler, Tarasenko Still Unsigned