The NHL schedule-makers sure seem to have an odd way of doing things. Out in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators opened the season with a 6-game road trip, and are having their home opener tonight. The New York Rangers have 9 on the road to start the season - their home opener isn't until October 28th. In contrast, our own St Louis Blues got to enjoy some home-cooking for the first 5 games of the season.
After the clusterfuck of a game that was Tuesday night's debacle, a change of venue might be just what the doctor ordered. The Blues can't afford to dwell on the loss too long, because a challenge like the Chicago BlackHawks demands your full attention. While the Blues can take confidence in having beaten these guys already, this time around the Hawks will have the home-ice advantage. Personally, I think these teams are even enough that home ice will be enough to tip the scales; in the Beyond Checkerdome Central Division preview, I predicted that the home team would win each game of this series (which, unfortunately favors the Hawks). Of course, I'd love to be wrong on this, at least for what it means for tonight, anyway.
Chicago is 4-1-1 on the year so far, with a home record of 3-0-1. They are led in overall points by Brandon Saad with 2 goals / 3 assists, and Patrick Kane - top goal scorer with 4 goals and 1 assist. Corey Crawford is off to a decent run, going 3-1-1 in his starts, with a 2.33 GAA and .917 Save Percentage. They've won their past three, and would be off to another start like last year, if it wasn't for already having a regulation loss. I wonder who that was to .... OH RIGHT, THAT WAS ST LOUIS. Sorry, that just felt really good to type.
This year I'm not picking an individual song for each game, although there will be plenty of musical references throughout the year. That format seemed a little stale, and it was getting increasingly difficult to pick new songs for the same teams year after year. So, we're loosening things up a little.
Perhaps I'm a little jaded, but I'm not on the Maxim Lapierre hatewagon right now. The hit was reckless, but exacerbated (in my opinion) by factors outside of Max's control. A suspension is due, but I don't think it'll exceed the 5-6 game mark. Then again, the Dept of Player Safety is anything but predictable - it could be anything from a fine to summary execution. From the team's perspective, though, his suspension will prove beneficial by providing an opportunity for another player. It looks like Magnus Paajarvi will be stepping in to fill that roster spot, and this can be a great chance for the Umlaut Overlord. Additionally, if Brenden Morrow isn't ready to go, we may see the Adam Cracknell released upon the Hawks as well.
Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:00 PM St Louis time. The TV coverage is back on FoxSports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. The GDT will be along just before the opening faceoff. Until then, gather here and guess who scores for the Blues first. My bet is on Patrik Berglund . Call your shots below.