Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues – Gameday Preview February 28, 2013

ST. LOUIS BLUES

vs. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

February 28th, 2013
Scottrade Center
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Midwest
Chicago Leads Season Series 1-0

Tonight the St. Louis Blues will be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time this season and for the first time on home ice.  Coming into the game the Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation and are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games.  While the Hawks are off to a great start, the St. Louis Blues have been off since Saturday and Coach Ken Hitchcock has been pushing the team harder than ever in practice.  The Blues hope to get back on track as they are 4-4-2 in their last 10 and would love to end the Hawks streak tonight at Scottrade.

Jan 22, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Bollig (52) fights with St. Louis Blues right wing Chris Stewart (25) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS BLUES

(10-6-2, 3rd in Central)

The St. Louis Blues are coming off of a home win against Columbus on Saturday, but a lot has changed since then.  Although the Blues managed to best the Blue Jackets, the team did not put on their best performance causing Coach Ken Hitchcock to push the team a bit harder than usual.  During a battle drill this week the Blues lost the services of Andy McDonald and may have lost Alex Steen for a short amount of time.  McDonald is expected to be out of the lineup on a week by week basis as Steen is questionable and may be ready by gametime tonight.  The big challenge tonight for the Blues will be to find scoring with McDonald and Tarasenko out of the lineup.  If Steen is out as well the Blues will be without their leading point scorer.  Perhaps a tad bit rusty after 5 days off, the Blues will need to come out tonight with full intensity to best the Blackhawks and end their winning streak.

Key players  

Mar 13, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a save against Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Brunette (15) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jaroslav Halak put on an incredible show Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  With Halak playing some of the best hockey of his career, the Blues will lean on him to be the backbone of this team especially while dealing with injuries.  Since returning from his own injury, Halak has posted an incredible .950 save-percentage and allowed just one goal in each game played.  Tonight, against a Chicago team that is on a roll, Halak will look to continue his success and keep the Hawks from posting any goals.

Others to watch  

Jan 26, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; St. Louis Blues center Jaden Schwartz (9) carries the puck through center ice during the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blues defeated the Stars 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jaden Schwartz is going to have to step up and play some of the best hockey of his career.  With the St. Louis Blues entire second line out, again Steen may play tonight but is unlikely, Schwartz has the chance to show that he deserves a shot for the Blues that isn’t on the fourth line.  So far this season Schwartz has spent the majority of his time on a line with Scott Nichol and Ryan Reaves learning to work on the defensive aspect of his game.  Now Schwartz will have a shot to get a bit more ice time and I think he is going to take advantage of it.  Last season Schwartz showed that he had the scoring touch in the NHL and tonight more than ever will have to prove to the fans he is ready to stay in the top league.

Feb 19, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) lays on the ice after being injured by Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (not pictured) during the third period at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in the shootout. The Blackhawks tied an NHL record for scoring at least one point in 16 consecutive games to open a season. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

(16-0-3, 1st in Central)

The Chicago Blackhawks are a team that is used to playing on the road this season, but after wrapping up a seven game homestand the Hawks will have to prove that they still have what it takes to win on the road.  Tonight, that means playing in a building where there is possibly the most hatred of the Blackhawks in the league for their first road game in two and a half weeks. Throughout St. Louis, fans have been waiting for the chance to see the Blues end the Hawks streak and will look to best them in regulation for the first time this season.

Key players 

Feb 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) takes a shot during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Kane has been nothing but amazing this season for the Blackhawks as it appears that he has finally grown up.  While Kane only has one goal and two assists in his last five games, he has put up an impressive 24 points this season.  With the ability to deke and skate past any mistake a defenseman makes, Kane could take advantage of some of the holes in the St. Louis system.  Look for Kane to wake up again tonight and possibility put some points on the board.

Others to watch 

Feb 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) skates with the puck against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Toews and David Backes do not get along.  Fans of both teams remember when the two captains dropped the gloves and showed what they were really made of.  Whenever the Hawks make it to town the Blues seem to have a target on the back of unlucky 19.  With no points in his last four games, Toews will want to show the St. Louis fans that he is one captain they do not want to take advantage of.  The real question will be if it will be more of the same from Toews or if he can manage to end his pointless streak.

Bottom line

History is on the line tonight in St. Louis and the Blues hope to go down as the team that said nice try to Chicago.  All week the Blues have been focused and working hard on fixing all of the holes in their game and finding ways to improve.  The Blackhawks have been great so far but a number of factors could lead to their demise at any moment.  While the team has been riding high all season, a shift in power can occur at any time in the league.  Don’t believe me, just look at the San Jose Sharks.  Tonight’s game will be a physical one and we should expect to see tempers get high for both teams.  In order for the Blues to win they are going to need their call ups from the AHL to be perfect and the rest of the team is going to have to skate hard for a full 60 minutes.  Only time will tell who will come out on top, but tonight is sure to be a great game.

Injuries

The Blues come into tonight with a few different faces on the ice.  Andy McDonald is out with a knee injury and has been placed on the injured reserve.  Also on the IR for the Blues is youngster Vladimir Tarasenko who is out with concussion like symptoms.  Not much has been released about his status, but he has not been on the ice practicing with the team this week.  Add to the list Alex Steen who has not yet been ruled out for tonight’s game.  Steen is battling a shoulder injury and should be a game time decision.  If Steen is out of the lineup tonight, he could be back as soon as tomorrow.  The Blackhawks have been lucky this season and have stayed healthy thus far, but  the Hawks will be without Dave Bolland who is out with an upper body injury.

Let’s hope the St. Louis Blues can bring home a win tonight.  LET’S GO BLUES!

-Alex Hodschayan

Topics: Chicago Blackhawks, Game Preview, St. Louis Blues

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  • bluenotebacker

    Obviously, I want the Blues to win this game, mostly because I always want them to win. Would it be icing on the cake to know they snapped Chicago’s streak? Yes. I say in all honesty that if the game is competitive and tight, Blues win or lose, I’ll be okay with it. This isn’t a situation where if the Blues don’t win their season is over. UNLESS they come out flat, uninspired, and playing like they don’t care. I don’t see that happening though. GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!

    • Alex Hodschayan

      It’s only a matter of time. They are not the best team in the league even if they are playing that way. It is a great start and they will be in the playoffs and probably win the division. I just don’t think this is a team that will win the cup. They are going to choke at some point and struggle just like every other team in the league. The question isn’t if, it is just when. I think the Blues can pull out a win tonight mainly because I don’t think the Hawks won’t take them seriously enough.

      • Tim Scarborrow

        wishful thinking is all you have dude

        • Alex Hodschayan

          So you think that the Blackhawks can go without a regulation loss this season? You think they will have an easy march to the cup? If so, please explain why. Great teams all go through slumps at some point. The longer the winning streak continues, the worse the timing of a losing streak could be.

          • Richard Cranium

            Agreed ! That’s kind of the point, i was trying to make at his comment at the top of the page . I just hope, that game was a wake up call, to the Blues . But, i fear if they haven’t learned it thus far, they’ll never understand it !

          • TheRealBBOX

            You may be the biggest dope I’ve ever seen in my life and that says a LOT. “The longer the winning streak continues, the worse the timing of a losing streak could be.” So your logic is that the Blackhawks are better off losing now . . . because it might be worse for them to lose later? Are you kidding me? And who says the Blackhawks are going to go on a “losing streak” anyways? Is that your stupid logic, that there’s some immutable law of nature that says if a team wins a ton of games in a row, they have to lose a ton of games in a row?

            My favorite part though is still where you say the Blackhawks aren’t the best team in the league, they’re just playing like it, the same day they come to town and wang-whip the goon squad from St. Louis. Name a team that’s better, go on, I’ll be waiting for your answer.

          • Alex Hodschayan

            Anaheim is a better team. Pittsburgh is a better team. Los Angeles is a better team. The “goon squad” that you refer to was once of the best teams point wise in the league last season. You can be as confident as you would like, but everyone, including the Blackhawks, lose games. What they have done is great so far this season, but it will not last forever. Also, you are welcome to share your opinions, but please be an adult and refrain from name calling and senseless comments.

          • GD

            It’s hard to argue that Pittsburgh is a better team than the Hawks. You are comparing apples and oranges since the teams will have 0 common opponents this year. Additionally, the Penguins have lost nearly 40% of there games and are not even the best team in their conference, record wise, at this time.

            The Ducks are a good team, but also one that is giving up nearly a goal a game more than the Hawks. The team that has played the Hawks this year have been the Canucks going 1-0-1 against them.

            Any Hawks fan that thinks this team is going to go undefeated during the season is delusional. However, I keep hearing this argument of a team “peaking too early.” This argument is absurd because it indirectly argues that a team should lose for what seems to be “the greater good.” Any fan, of any team in any situation, should laugh in the face of anyone who argues this point. Given that the last two teams that held the “longest point streak to start the season” record won the Stanley Cup, and I believe it is 4 of the last 5 record holders winning the Cup, history is a extremely good counter-argument to an argument that is fairly weak to begin with.

          • Jimmy Derossi

            Please explain how those teams are better? The blackhawks have waxed the Kings twice and the Pens aren’t even the best team in their own division let alone their conference. It’s quite evident that your Blues homerism is getting in the way of you objectively evaluating the Blackhawks. Whether you like it or not, this team right now is the favorite to win the Cup. Whether it happens or not we won’t know but they certainly have all the ingredients.

    • Tim Scarborrow

      hawks in a route – i guess thats why they call ‘em the Blues

  • Richard Cranium

    YEP ! The boys in Blue, showing the world they’re PRETENDERS, & NOT CONTENDERS ! The front office, needs to do something to get these guys attention . This team looks lethargic, & doesn’t seem like they care . I just wish that they would quit playing like they’re trying to get Hitchcock fired, & play the way they’re capable of playing ! But, that’s i guess what us Blues fans get for coddling these players that show signs of real talent . Maybe, we Blues fans need to start treating these players with the attitude of ” what have you done for me, lately ! ” because, the way we are treating them, is just enabling them to think it’s alright, we can play this game as an individual, not as a team !

    In closing : All I can say is, someone either in the front office, or on the coaching staff needs to hold these guys accountable, & start sitting some of these ” Star Players ” to get everybody’s attention, or start making deals ! ENOUGH, IS ENOUGH ALREADY ! This isn’t a panic reaction, this is a ” READ THE WRITING ON THE WALL ” reaction ! This style of play they had tonight against the Hawks, wasn’t just tonight, or during the 5 game losing streak, it’s been like this all season & it needs to change immediately ! Like, YESTERDAY !

  • Richard Cranium

    You know what ? On second thought, maybe they need to trade one of the core guys . If that don’t do it, then they have serious problems !

  • Tim Scarborrow

    Hawks win over the Blues their easiest win in 3 weeks

    • Richard Cranium

      Coming from a Blues fan, you’re right ! But, with that being said : i still don’t see the Hawks winning the Stanley Cup ! Coach Q has said it himself, they’ve been getting away with mistakes, it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to them ! Congratulations, to the Chicago Blackhawks on extending their record point streak .

  • Jon

    Ok, I have a lot of beefs about your analysis of the Hawks so far this year. But the one complaint I’ll just air out now, is your comparison of the current Hawks play and that of San Jose’s earlier this season. That’s like comparing apples and some other fruit that had one-third as long of a point streak playing 5/7ths of their games at home against mostly weak teams.

    Of course the Hawks will lose eventually. Of course there are power shifts in the league. Just, why use the Sharks as an example? It’s clearly on a way different level than this Hawks team is currently.

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