Blackhawks seek to give St. Louis the blues

Wednesday is one of those highly important Central division showdown games: second-place St. Louis (16-6-2) visits third-place Chicago (15-8-1). The two teams last faced each other on October 25th at the Scottrade Center.

The Blues have been very good on the road, going 7-3-1 thus far this season. Here's the quirk: they're managing a measly 2.18 G/G on the road, versus 3.00 G/G at home. It's worth keeping an eye on young Vladmir Tarasenko of the Blues, who's evolving into a dynamic scorer (14G, 12A in 24 games) and a possession leader on a team that hasn't historically been known for its offensive punch.

Unless, of course, that punch refers to the Blues' physicality. While hockey fans have lamented St. Louis' pounding physical style for years, Zach Parise of the Wild went suggest something else after Minnesota lost to the Blues on Saturday night. Parise stated to the press, "That's their game. That's what they try to do. They try to bully you around the ice. It's a waste of time trying to get involved with that. It's stupid."

The really big news out of St. Louis this week is that goaltender Brian Elliott will miss time with a lower-body injury, thus thrusting Jake Allen into starting netminder duties. Iconic goaltender Marty Brodeur, who has spent his entire record-setting, future-HHOF career with the New Jersey Devils, signed with the Blues today on a bargain-priced ($700K) contract that is heavily loaded with performance bonuses. Allen will get his first career start versus the Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Coming off their successful 5-1-0 circus trip, the Blackhawks will look to continue that success at home. And indeed, the Blackhawks have played some of their best games against the Blues when they play their own speedy, puck-possession style instead of allowing themselves to be drawn in to potential penalties.

Corey Crawford sustained an "off-ice lower body injury" and will miss at least one game. Scott Darling has been recalled from Rockford to fulfill backup goaltender duties, and Antti Raanta will make the start for Chicago. Raanta's last game also happened to be versus the Blues, a 3-2 loss.

Where the Blackhawks can hope to take best advantage of the Blues is on the power play. St. Louis is just 79.2% on the PK (20th) while collecting an average 10.7 PIM/GP.

INJURY REPORT

- Patrick Sharp has resumed practicing with the team; however, he is not expected to skate in Wednesday's game.

- Jay Bouwmeester remains out for the Blues.