Blackhawks Head to St. Louis to Challenge Blues
The Chicago Blackhawks will look to continue their winning ways tonight when they matchup with the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks are coming off of an exciting 5-4 shootout win against the struggling New York Islanders last night and look to build on that success.
This will be the second matchup of the season for these two teams, with the Blues taking a decisive 3-0 shutout win on Nov. 8th on strong goaltending by Jaroslav Halak in Ken Hitchcock's coaching debut for his club.
The St. Louis Blues have been a revelation since Ken Hitchcock took over for former Blues coach Davis Payne, going 8-1-2 since that time. The Blues don't have what you might consider a "power-house" offense, as they rank 24th in the NHL in goals for at 61, but they do have the 3rd best defense in the league with allowing just 51 goals to the opposition
Because the Blues don't have a significant goal differential (+8) for a team with a 14-8-3 overall record, they tend to win a lot of their games by a close margin. A lot of their success can be attributed starting from their goaltending and then moving outward through the forwards. Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot, especially, have both played well this season and had a large impact on the Blues' success so far.
The Chicago Blackhawks have made winning no easy task lately. In their last 4 games, the Hawks have gone 3-1 while allowing 14 goals during that time. Chicago has done a good job finding ways to get the two points in 3 out of four contests, but their defense and goaltending has been nothing more than average, if that. As expected, Jonathan Toews has been the Hawks best player as of late, getting little help from his teammates.
Despite their 15-8-3 overall record, Chicago has been pretty horrid in their own zone in front of starting netminder Corey Crawford. Not only have they allowed a significant amount of scoring to the opposition in their last several games, but they've more importantly done so to teams not really known for their scoring prowess. The Hawks will have to really tighten up in their own end to boost their overall game play and the play of their number one goaltender in Crawford.
Keep an Eye Out For -
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have undoubtedly led the way for the Blackhawks in terms of offensive production. Toews leads his club in scoring with 27 points in 26 games and has 8 points in his last 4 games. Patrick Sharp has been on a goal scoring tear with 5 goals in his last 4 games, including a hat trick against Chicago's 6-5 recent win over Anaheim.
Alexander Steen currently leads his Blues club with 18 points in 25 games and has 4 assists in his last 4 games. St. Louis also gets David Perron back from injury tonight, so look for him to get on the score sheet to jump start the offense for his team.
Injuries - The Blackhawks will suit up a healthy lineup once again tonight. The Blues, however, will be without several starting players including Kent Huskins, Carlo Colaiacovo, B.J. Crombeen, Andy McDonald and Evgeny Grachev.
Catch tonight's game televised on WGN and FS-MW at 8pm/7pm central.