Hawks take on Blues for Central Division seeding

Spring is most definitely in the air and in NHL terms that means the fight for playoff spots and seeding. The Hawks and the Blues already are in the playoffs it is yet to be determined exactly where they will ultimately end up within the division and conference. Today’s tilt will go a long way in deciding just that.

To say this is a preview of what could be the Blackhawks first round is a bit premature considering the Blues will be without a couple of key forwards and where each team ends up is still undecided. The Hawks also will face the Blues again this week Thursday so plenty of things can change.

Look for it to be an intense usual Hawks/Blues match. There is no love lost between these two clubs and David Backes would love nothing better than to hit the Hawks where it hurts. Brent Seabrook and captain Jonathan Toews need to have their heads on swivels when Backes is on the ice.

This is the fourth regular season matchup between these two clubs with two of the first three going to the Blackhawks so look for the Blues to want a little revenge there as well.  Surprisingly statistically it is the Blues that are better on paper offensively and the Hawks are better defensively. The Hawks just need to watch out giving up turnovers in their own zone and they should be fine.

In nets for the Blackhawks will be Corey Crawford who has been sensational since his return from injury and look for Jack Allen in nets for the Blues.

At the end of today it is very possible that the Central Division leader will change and it could see both clubs along with the Nashville Predators all tied at 104 points. Parity is indeed alive and well, at least in the regular season. Look for lines to remain the same as neither Baun or Paliotta will be in the line-up just yet.

On the defensive side of the puck for the Hawks look for Michal Rozsival to return in place of David Rundblad.

Look for a entertaining game, even though both sides will be without key offensive pieces look for a physical and intense game that could very well determine who each club will face in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Who to look out for:

The Blues will be without their top two offensive fire starters in Tarasenko and Steen. To pick up the slack look out for captain David Backes, TJ Oshie and Jayden Schwartz to fill the void. Schwartz has been dominating so watch out for him.

For the Hawks Jonathan Toews has picked up the slack followed by line mates Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad. Duncan Keith has contributed on the offensive side as well as of late as well. Andrew Shaw is establishing net front presence and getting greasy goals. Also the fourth line of Kruger, DesJardins and Teravainen have been providing an offensive spark as well.

 

INJURY REPORT

Blackhawks

Joakim Norstrom - is on a day to day basis with lower body injury.

Patrick Kane -  is on LTIR with clavicle injury

Daniel Carcillo - is out with upper body day to day

Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko –  out with lower body day to day

 Alex Steen - out with lower body day to day

 

Where to watch: NBCSN or listen on WGN radio 720 in chicago at 6:30 pm Central time