ST. LOUIS BLUES
vs. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
February 28th, 2013
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.
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.
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
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.
(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.
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
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.
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.
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!