Blackhawks look to tune out Blues in final meeting
In their final meeting of the regular season, the Blackhawks will look to close out the series with their Central division foes. The Hawks have the edge in the series 3-2 coming into this game. The last confrontation with these two saw the Hawks skate away with a 4-3 win in a shoot out at the United Center. Both teams are coming into this game with exactly the same record in their last 10 games of 6-2-2.
The Blackhawks are looking to get as many points as possible in their final five games to secure a playoff berth and distance themselves from other Western Conference teams. The Blues while they are leading the league are looking to secure more points as well to capture the President’s trophy.
The Blackhawks will be without key personnel Toews, Keith, Lepisto all will be out again. It is uncertain if Montador will be in the game or not after sustaining a hit in the game against the Devils. For the Blues Roman Polak will be questionable and Andy McDonald is also a game time decision who has been out with a bruised shoulder.
This will be a good game for each of these teams to prepare them for the playoffs. The playing styles of these two teams are a stark contrast. The Blues lead the league in defensive play allowing the fewest amount of goals while the Blackhawks are sixth in the league in goals scored per game. These two teams being divisional rivals have a healthy dislike for one another so this one should have a playoff atmosphere.
Look for Crawford in net for the Hawks. Whether it is Halak or Elliott the Hawks will have to work to get their goals in the St. Louis net.
Keys to the game
Ø The Hawks have to get that anemic power play going and they probably will get plenty of opportunities as St. Louis likes to evoke a physical style of play and are one of the most penalized teams in the league. The Hawks must find a way to score on the power play even though St. Louis is very good on the PK. Try dumping and go forecheck hard if the line is jammed or dump in deep along the boards – just a thought.
Ø The Blackhawks will need to continue playing their team defensive game with Duncan Keith still out. The Hawk forwards need to assist with back checking whenever possible. If possible try to jam up the middle and control the neutral zone.
Ø The Hawks need to get to the Blues’ net and crash the net for redirects and rebounds. They will need to stay patient and wait for the right opportunities. I would like to see a lot of blasts from the point especially from Seabrook and Oduya who have hard or tricky shots. They will have to work to get them through but if they can these shots could offer juicy rebounds even if they don’t go in.
Ø Don’t look for the Blues to beat themselves they have the fewest give aways in the league which means the Hawks will have to generate their own offensive opportunities.
Who to look for:
· The Achilles heel for the Hawks has been Andy McDonald who has scored on the Hawks in three of their previous encounters. If he is back from injury he could impact the game.
· Last time Bollig and Reaves had a little dance together; there is a possibility of a return engagement.
· Andrew Shaw has been the hot Blackhawk of late. Look for Shaw in front of the Blues goal to get a dirty goal. If not Shaw maybe Brunette
Hawks can be seen on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues on CSN or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 7:30 pm CT.
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