This is it. All games are worth the same 2 points (sometimes 3!), but some games are worth a little more nonetheless. Tonight and again later this week the Blues face the Chicago Blackhawks (aka Those Fuckers Up North, or TFUN). With just one point separating first from second, and another separating second from third, these points are particularly crucial. With Chicago being a likely first round opponent, the Blues want to demonstrate to themselves and their fans that they can do the job. The task gets a little more difficult when the Blues are short their top-two scorers, but don't expect any sympathy from the Hawks. They've gone 17 games straight without Patrick Kane, who was a viable Hart candidate until his injury.
The Hawks come into this match riding a 4-game winning streak. The first of those was against Winnipeg. Falling behind in the second period. they managed to tie it early in the third. Seemingly on the way to OT, that plan was diverted as Jonathan Toews scored at the 19:29 mark for the regulation win. In the most recent game, the Hawks jumped ahead of the Sabres, but then coughed up 3 goals to fall behind. Once again, Jonny Toews got on the saddle and came to the rescue. Two goals by the captain inside of the last 2 minutes of the game, and the Hawks emerged with another come-from-behind win in regulation. Coach Hitch is nobody's fool, though. I'm sure he's telling the team the same thing.
Obviously, Toews is shouldering a big part of the load right now, with Kane out of the picture. Focus too much on him, though, and Patrick Sharp or Marian Hossa can kill you. Not to mention Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger as well. And then, there's their blueline, with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook . There are plenty of weapons on this team, and they can all do their damage. No lead is safe, and there's no moment to coast out there. Play through to the whistle (and if I know some of these guys, a little afterwards. I'm alright with that).
It looks like Corey Crawford is getting the start today. In 54 starts, the team has had a 32-17-5 record, and he's put up some really good numbers: a .924 Save % and 2.28 GAA. Tonight, the Blues will be starting Jake Allen in net. Jake is having an average season this year, only .907 save percentage. His only career game against Chicago was earlier this year, a 4-1 loss back in December. However, In his last 10 appearances, he's allowed 2 or fewer goals in all but one. This has been a year of growth for him.
It should be a fun one, and some messages will be sent for the next game on Thursday. Prepare your liver. He was scratched in Dallas, but Barret Jackman is expected back tonight. This makes career game number 800 for him; you'll probably hear about that once or twice today. It'll be interesting to see if Ty Rattie continues playing with the boys tonight. Alexander Steen was seen on the ice for the first time since his injury, but I doubt he's up to playing tonight already. He and Vladimir Tarasenko have been travelling with the team.
Blues vs Blackhawks coverage
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Final Verse: Happy Easter, and Happy Opening Day (which actually might be the bigger holiday in St Louis). From here on out, we'll have to compete with baseball fans for airtime and TV real estate. I never understood how 19 of 20 bar TVs could be on the same ballgame, and still someone would complain. But I digress -
The puck drops at 6:30 PM St Louis time, and the GDT should drop shortly ahead of that. The TV broadcast is on NBCSN , and the radio call will be on Y98 FM. With that, I assume our prospect Peter Angelo will be dressed tonight. Come find out the rest along with us tonight in the GDT. Bring beer.
As we enter the last days of the regular season, it's like entering a zone of ....uh... well..