Who's Hot Who's Not is a statistical breakdown of the best and worst players on the Blues roster when facing their upcoming opponent. This gives the reader an insight into the future by studying trends of the past. Who's Hot Who's Not gives you an idea of who to keep your eye on during the game. It does so by calculating a stat called the Hot Rating. A players hot rating, or HR, is calculated using an algorithm that takes into account a players +/-, points, and games played against each opponent.
This is a special article because it is a Rivalry Edition. The Blues currently have no bigger rivals than the Chicago Blackhawks. They are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and we are knocking on their door. For the rivalry edition I will give some extra statistical breakdowns on the Blackhawks. I will be reviewing how they have been playing this month, and how they have been playing against the Blues.
The Hawks have come out luke warm at best since returning from Sochi. Since March 1st they are 5-3-0. This record might be acceptable to other teams, but more is expected from the champs. In comparison, the Blues, one of the NHL's hottest teams, is 8-0-1. Chicago has won their games by a total of 23 to 14. The Blues in the same time frame are winning 30 to 15. In the 3 games against St. Louis this season, Chicago has registered 1 loss and 2 OTL. Their point percentage is only .333. The games have always been close, as the Hawks average 3 goals per game, and the Blues average 4. The Hawks have been held under .500 in their point percentage against only 4 teams this season. The only team to keep them to a lower percentage is the Calgary Flames. Three of Chicago's top players, Captain Toews, Kane, and Hossa have combined for 8 goals and 6 assists in their last 6 games. The Blues, who are considered to be stocked with grinders and not high talent players have had three of their top players, Captain Backes, Oshie, Berglund, combine for 9 goals and 7 assists. This will no doubt be a playoff caliber game, as both teams vie for a high playoff seeding. The Chicago Blackhawks have home ice advantage, and don't expect the diehards in Chicago to allow Blues fans to get enough tickets to take over like we did against Nashville.
Games: 20 Points: 13 Plus/Minus: +2
Pietro has played well in his career against Chicago, but he has something new since their last meeting: a gold medal. He and fellow Blue Jay Bouwmeester were a strong defensive pairing for team Canada. Since returning, he has 6 points in 9 games. He has been especially electric this season against Chicago. In 3 games, he has notched 4 assists. Only 2 of his career points against Chicago have come as a goal. Don't expect to see Pietro in the penalty box, as he has only 2 career penalty minutes all time against Chicago, the same as his career goals against them. Since his return from the Olympics, he is shooting 12.5%. He is also +19 against Central Division opponents this season. In his previous game against Winnipeg, Pietro notched an assist on David Backes' final goal of the game. He also had 4 shots on goal and 1 blocked shot.
Games: 48 Points: 30 Plus/Minus: +6
Morrow has been one of the few Blues who have been quiet since the Olympic break. In the month of March he has only 1 goal. This season against Chicago he has yet to register a stat. If history repeats, expect the wily veteran to find ways to score points. He hasn't taken many shots against Chicago, which may be why his numbers are down. He shoots 16.3% in his career against the Blackhawks. Morrow has been very much a dual threat when taking the ice against Chicago, as he has 13 goals and 17 assists. Included in his 13 goals are 4 which came on the power play. In his previous game against Winnipeg, Morrow broke into the scoring category for the first time this month. Derek Roy baited the goaltender to his right, as he had his man beat coming in. He then heard the Morrow as he slapped his stick on the ice calling for the puck. A beautiful pass ensued, and Brenden Morrow scored an equally beautiful goal. He also registered 3 shots on goal and 2 hits.
Games: 26 Points: 22 Plus/Minus: -3
Blues fans everywhere hope that Oshie will return from his paternity leave for this vital game against the Blackhawks. The team needs his spark plug personality in the locker room, and his precise puck handling on the ice. Even more important, 2 of the 3 games this season have gone to the shootout. As the entire world became aware in Sochi, there may be no better human being on the Earth in the shootout than Oshie. This month, Oshie has been racking up points on a 1 per game basis. He has 3 goals and 5 assists in 8 games. Against Chicago this season, he has 2 assists and a 0 on the +/-. Those numbers do not include his 2 goals in 2 attempts at the shootout this season against Chicago. In his career, he has 5 goals and 17 assists when skating against the Hawks. Oshie didn't play against Winnipeg, as his first child was born. We all wish Mr. and Mrs. Oshie and their new born bundle the best. We also hope that Osh can step back into hockey concentrated and continue the pace he has set thus far.
Games: 28 Points: 5 Plus/Minus -12
Leopold might want to wait for his return to the ice. He has been historically bad against the Blackhawks. This season in his games against Chicago he has yet to make a dent. He has 0 goals, 0 assists, and +/- 0 in 2 games. Leopold is primed to make his return after suffering from a high ankle sprain in early February. Thus far this season, Leopold has 6 points with a +/- of 0. All but one of his points have come on assists. Blues fans everywhere are excited to get Leopold back into the lineup. He was brought in to be one of the final pieces to a championship team last season. We needed a left handed defenseman, and Jordan fit the bill. His play has been completely overshadowed by the other defenseman brought in by the Blues that season, Jay Bouwmeester. If Leopold enters the lineup against the Hawks, expect some growing pains while he and his linemate, whoever that may be, become familiar with each other again. Leopold was rumored to return to the lineup against Winnipeg, but was scratched due to his injury. High ankle sprains are far harder to recover from than regular ankle sprains. He wouldn't be the first athlete to miss the remainder of his season with one, if he reinjured it.
Games: 9 Points: 3 Plus/Minus: -4
It breaks my heart to see Schwartz remain on the not list, but he has only recently come on as a strong player. Historically, he is still haunted by rookie growing pains. Schwartz has been one of the hottest players on the ice this month, racking up 9 points in 9 games. This season he has totaled 15 points in 22 games against Central Division opponents. In his 3 games against Chicago this season he has 1 goal on 10 shots, with a +/- of -1. All of his career points against Chicago have come as goals, and with the fire coming off his stick as of late, expect that to continue. Schwartz has looked hungrier than anyone on the team as of late. The Blues have lost a vital point scorer in Vladdy Tarasenko, expect Schwartz to step into his place. The Blues would be wise to go with the hot hand, and dish Schwartz the puck. Schwartz didn't record any points against Winnipeg, but it wasn't for trying. He produced 5 shots on goal.
Games: 55 Points: 11 Plus/Minus: -12
Jackman has more experience against the Blackhawks than most. He was taken in the 1st round of the 1999 draft, and has played with the Blues ever since. This month Jackman has been playing with a fire, but it has landed him in the penalty box for 23 minutes in only 9 games. Jackman will never be known as a defenseman who adds offense with his stick, but what he does bring is veteran leadership, fearlessness, and grit. Many fans believe that the Blues are built on grinders. Jackman is the epitome of a grinder. The Blackhawks are considered to be one of the most talent laden teams in the NHL. They also play hard nosed hockey, but not up to the level of the Blues. Look for Jackman to play with a fire in his belly tonight. He has been hustling like a player of 10 years younger, retaking ground that his fellow defensemen have given up. Evidence of this can be seen in the Winnipeg game, as he registered 3 blocked shots.
Games: 4 Wins: 2 Save%: .939 GAA: 2.03
Miller has brought points since arriving in town. He has collected a point in every game this season with St. Louis. Miller hasn't faced the Hawks often in his career, but his stats are superb. Understand that while he only wins 50% of his games, his save percentage and GAA are stellar for a team of Chicago's caliber. He faced Chicago once this season, losing the contest. He did register a save percentage of .950 while allowing only 2 goals. He faced 40 shots in that game. That number is almost twice the amount fans expect from the Blues. If Miller can maintain that save percent against far fewer shots, he will put the Blues in a prime position to win. The Chicago Blackhawks are the toughest challenge for Miller yet, and pose a very real threat of ending his point streak.
Games: 9 Wins: 4 Save%: .919 GAA: 2.26
Elliott has been almost a forgotten man since the arrival of Ryan Miller. In his lone appearance he gave a highlight reel performance. Is he using the Miller signing as motivation? That is something we may never know. What we do know is that Miller has played medium well to well against Chicago. His save percentage is in the range that one would desire, and his GAA isn't something to scoff at. He has won less than 50% of his game against Chicago, however. He did face Chicago once this season, taking home a win. His numbers weren't as good as his career total. His save percentage was .895 while allowing 2 goals in that game. If he came out looking as he did in his previous game, no one would be disappointed to see Elliott starting between the pipes. At the time of this article, the goalie against Chicago hasn't been confirmed.
All player bio images are via the St. Louis Blues Official site.