The St. Louis Blues finally get back on the ice for a game tonight. The question is how will they treat it.
The day has finally arrived. While this game will not count for anything, the St. Louis Blues finally play an opponent other than themselves for the first time in over four months.
It will be the Blues against the Chicago Blackhawks this evening. It will be the lone exhibition game for both teams as they ramp up for the round-robin games or the play-in series.
Chicago knows they will be facing the Edmonton Oilers for at least three games after tonight’s warm up. The Blues have tough tests in the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars to determine seeding for the first round of the playoffs.
The question everyone has regarding this game, and perhaps the round-robin games, is how seriously will the teams take it. The answer should surprise no one.
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The Blues are going to take it seriously. Craig Berube is not going to use this game to take a look at some prospects or mess with any line chemistry.
He is going to put out something very close to the lineup we will see once the playoffs actually begin. One of the main reasons is Berube wants to know where his team is at.
With everything happening so fast, you don’t have the luxury of settling in and finding your game. The Blues have to get to their game right away and playing an exhibition against their primary rival is the perfect opportunity for that.
“(This is) our only exhibition game before the real thing starts. We need to get our structure down and get after it. That’s what I’m looking forward to.” – Craig Berube, NHL.com
So, it would seem the only thing that will make this different from a regular season game is the goaltending situation. According to the Post-Dispatch, the Blues will play both goaltenders in the game against Chicago.
The only thing Berube said was “the plan is to use both goalies and see how it goes.” Still, it makes sense.
Binnington is going into this thing as the number one goalie, but with no regular season to see how his reaction times were, the Blues have to be willing to go with a hot hand. If, heaven forbid, an injury were to happen, you don’t want Allen to not have played in four or five months.
Vince Dunn will not be playing this evening as he just rejoined the team prior to leaving for Edmonton and only got one practice in. It is assumed Oskar Sundqvist, who was dealing with an injury, will see some time against Chicago.
Teams are allowed to dress two extra skaters than normal, so do not be shocked if lines have an occasional different body on them. That said, Berube seems intent on getting the Blues to play as close to a normal game as possible.
Tonight’s game will begin at 5:30 Central Time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Midwest Plus in St. Louis, as the St. Louis Cardinals will get priority on FSM. If you are outside of St. Louis, NBC Sports will show the game, but will join it in progress.
Chris Kerber and Joey Vitale will call the game on 101 ESPN. John Kelly and Darren Pang are on the Fox Sports broadcast.