As we've said before on the podcast, one of the trickier jobs in the NHL is the crew that design the schedule for the season. It must be a monster of a balancing act for the league to keep the travel mileage low and also navigate around other arena events. Sometimes, there are regular features to a teams' schedule. The Preds, for instance, just recently hit the road to allow the Bridgestone Arena to be used for the CMA awards. The Blues usually have a road trip in March to allow for the the Arch Madness basketball tourney. One of the oldest traditions is the annual Blackhawks Circus Road Trip. Every year they have to hit the road to let the circus take over the United Center.
Tonight the Hawks play at home for the first time since November 16th. In the six games they spent living out of suitcases, they went 5-1, including back-to-back 4-1 victories against Anaheim and Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday night. They've been one of the hottest teams in the league, and are now sitting in 3rd place in the Central Division. I don't think anyone really expected them to be down for long. We knew that they'd come back stronger.
Your offensive leaders are the usual suspects: points leader Patrick Kane has 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) shares the goals lead with Jonathan Toews (10g, 9a). Surprisingly, the next player on the points list is Kris Versteeg (7g, 11a). Rounding out the top 5 are Marian Hossa of course (3g, 14a) and
Michal Handzus 2.0 Brad Richards with 6 goals and 10 assists. Normally, we would expect Corey Crawford in net tonight. So far, he has put up a 1.87 GAA and a .929 save percentage. However, he seems to be dealing with a lower-body injury again/still, and so we'll likely see Antti Raanta tonight. In his 3 games this year that he's played, he's posted a 2.03 GAA and a .933 save percentage.
The other strong suit for the Hawks has been their PK. So far this season, they have killed off an amazing 92.3% of the shorthanded situations that they've fallen into. The Blues power play will certainly find that a challenge.
Injuries for Chicago: both Patrick Sharp and Trevor van Riemsdyk remain on IR with Lower Body Injuries.
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Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:00 PM St Louis time, and the GameDay Thread should drop shortly before that. The TV broadcast will be on NBC Sports Network (Rivalry Night!!!) and the correct name pronunciations will be on KMOX 1120 AM. One way or another, you know it should be an interesting game. Come join us here, won't you. Hopefully the game will help you get this out of your mind: