"Everybody hands go UP ... and they stay there..." (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Welcome to the NHL, Jaden Schwartz. I'm assuming your first game will be spent in the press box. There's no better introduction to your new life as a professional hockey player than watching your teammates play a big game against one of their most hated rivals. Soak it in, kid... there's a reason why they call it the "Madhouse on Madison". It'll be easy to be overwhelmed with how things are different at the pro level - these are full grown men, the game moves faster, the hits are harder, and the preparation is at a much higher level. Take comfort in the familiar: skates on ice, crisp passes, the water bottle popping off the net after a perfect snipe. Gradually, the transformation will come along: no longer a Colorado College Tiger, you will be one of the St Louis Blues. It starts tonight.
The Enemy: At this point in the season, there's not much new to add that y'all didn't already know. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews has missed 10 straight games with a concussion. He's been skating with the team, but hasn't been cleared for contact, and will more than likely miss tonight's game too. In those last 10 games, the Hawks have gone 5-4-1 and have held steady at 6th place (82 points) in the Western Conference. Phoenix is not far behind in the 7th spot with 78 points. They have plenty of firepower still; no trouble in scoring goals with these guys. The usual names have been on hot streaks lately, but they miss their captain the most on the power play. The BlackHawks have scored just 3 times in their last 55 power play chances.
Ray Emery has usurped the starter's role in net, and has started the last five games straight. Assuming they play him again against a divisional rival, the Blues are facing a 2.66 GAA / .910 SV% stat line. If they should throw Corey Crawford out there, his numbers are 2.94 GAA / .900 SV%.
Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:30 PM St Louis time. The broadcasts are on the usual outlets: Fox Sports MW for TV, and KMOX 1120 AM for the radio call. Until then, this is your pregame warmup. Gather here, start warming up the Chicago hate machine, celebrate the NHL's best damn team, and continue to scoff at the national media's spotlight (or lack thereof).
Finally, here's something that our boys won't need tonight to get revved up; but if you did have a band following you around, they'd make a good one.
Starbucks Commercial - Glenn and Roy (via jravary)