Blackhawks vs Blues: The series kicks off tonight with game one in the opening round of the Blues vs Blackhawks NHL playoff matchup. The series features the second and third place teams in the Central Division.
Frankly, if you’d told anyone that knows hockey a month ago that Chicago and St. Louis would be #2 and #3 in the Central, they’d have called you crazy. The teams have battled for top spot in the Central Division all year long and a couple weeks ago, most people figured the Blues would skate away with the President’s Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. But this is the NHL, where nothing happens quite like it’s supposed to once the playoffs get near. A related article in the Inquisitr gives an idea of how jumbled up the playoff picture still was going into the final day of regular season play.
As far as St. Louis and Chicago are concerned, it almost looked like the two powerhouses skated backwards into the 2013-2014 NHL playoffs. St. Louis dropped all of their final five games. Chicago – the defending Stanley Cup champs– barely broke.500 for the second half of the season.
Both the Blackhawks and the Blues are banged up, according to The Bleacher Report, and have been for much of the past couple of months. The Hawks will get a boost from the return of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, if they can stay healthy. St. Louis’s roster has a lot of question marks going into game one of the Blues vs Blackhawks series. Many of their injured stars – and they’ve been missing six of their top 12 forwards – are a game time decision.
Who exactly might St. Louis have to start the Blackhawks vs Blues series without? Patrick Berglund, Brenden Morrow, Vladimir Tarasenko, Vladimir Sobotka, David Backes, Derek Roy and T.J. Oshie – who single-handedly beat the Russians at the Olympics with his shootout skills.
Like many playoff series, the Blues vs Blackhawks might well come down to which goalie gets hot. St. Louis acquired Ryan Miller from the hapless Buffalo Sabres and he started out looking like he was just the shot in the arm the franchise – which has never won a Stanley Cup – needed. Miller has been off down the stretch, though, as has the team in front of him.
The Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford isn’t exactly an elite goaltender, either. When he’s hot, he can play with the best of them (and playing for the Blackhawks, he only has to be marginally hot to deliver a W anyway). Unfortunately for Chicago fans, he isn’t always hot. He’s streaky. How does that play out in the playoffs? Depends on what kind of streak he’s on.
Don’t miss the game tonight. If you’re away from the TV, or if the game isn’t covered in your area, you can watch the Blackhawks vs Blues game one streaming online for free here.