Late Registration: Blues At Chicago Blackhawks Preview

Doors, Five Holes, .... whatever it takes, Roman. - Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's not too late; the Blues can still go H*A*M on the ChiHawks and right the ship.

If every cloud has a silver lining, then the positive that we can take out of the loss to the Avalanche on Saturday is that those two points (somewhat) dicked over the Blackhawks. It's not much, granted, but there's not much else with which you can polish that turd.

There's no telling what's happening inside the Blues dressing room, or inside the heads of the Blues players. If the game against Buffalo was a "trap game", then perhaps there's a little of that still remaining. It's plausible that the last game with the Blackhawks was enough of a bitter pill that our boys are overly focused on today's game. With that on the horizon, and our previous record against the Avalanche, I could see that being the case. I can't see Vladimir Tarasenko's absence being that tough to adjust to, or Alexander Steen's either, for that matter.

Another bad habit that seems to be creeping in, is allowing frustration to seep in and throw our boys off of their game. Once again, the Blues are allowing themselves to be caught in retaliation penalties. Once again, frustration over not hitting the back of the net results in hitting opponents instead. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but old bad habits are easy to fall back into, and doubly hard to get out of; hopefully there will be a correction today. If they do, then watch the throne, kids, because the Blues will have gotten back on track.

Today's matchup is an all-too-familiar opponent. The interesting twist is that they are missing 2 of their top 3 scorers. Both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are sidelined until the end of the season. These last few games on the schedule are being manned by a reduced squad, although they gutted out a tough win over Columbus Friday night. The game-winner was scored with about 3 seconds left, and surely gave the Hawks a confidence boost.

Great.

Welp, there's nothing left but to play the game, and see how it goes. Even missing Kane and Toews, the Hawks are far from toothless. Leading in goals and points, Patrick Sharp (32g, 43a) is still one to watch out for. Likely Norris candidate Duncan Keith has only 6 goals, but 54 assists for 60 points. Marian Hossa (28g, 29a) is also very dangerous. The thorn under the Blues' skin will be Andrew Shaw, who only has 19 goals and 36 points BUT 74 penalty minutes, second only to St Louis product Brandon Bollig. Despite those 74 PIMs, Shaw is a +2 in Penalties, meaning he's still drawn more than he's taken. The Blues cannot fall into that trap.

The Hawks have had a day to rest, so will likely truck out Corey Crawford for goaltending duty. His stat line of .918 Sv% and 2.23 GAA is pretty respectable, but even better is his .941 Sv% and 1.63 GAA against St Louis this year. There's no mercy coming from that side of the ice.

One of two things will happen. Either the Blues will right the ship, play an amazing, tight game that matches the second-best possession team in the league, and win a 1-goal game.... or the Blues will remain in the present quagmire, looking slow and behind the play all night. Frustrations will boil over, and the penalty box door will be opening and closing all night. Maybe that's why they call it the Windy City?

Further Reading:

Second City Hockey

Committed Indian

Final Verse: Yet another matinee, as the opening faceoff is at 11:30 AM. The TV broadcast is on NBC (yippeee.), and the radio call is on KMOX 1120. The GDT should drop just before the puck does. Until then, this is your morning skate. Let us know which Blues team you think will show up today. Here's another topic: Chicago-style pizza isn't pizza; it's a casserole. Lastly, enjoy a parody video on today's theme artist...


LGB!!!

-CrossCheckRaise

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