Something I used to say about the Wings all of the time was "you can beat them for 59 minutes, but lose the game in the 1 minute you allow them". That came true in a literal sense against Colorado on Friday. Nonetheless, the Blues did at least earn a point, and now face the more substantial challenge of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues can (and already have this season) beat the Hawks, but they will need to give it all for the entire game. There can be absolutely no let up. The moment you do, the Hawks will come back at you. We've seen it happen before. The lack of finish has cost us points in the standings, even in games that the Blues have played well in. The good left undone accumulates as the season progresses.
There's an old story about three men walking in the woods and inadvertently disturbing a snake. The first one wakes it up, the second one gets it angry, but it's the third guy that gets bit. In a similar fashion, the Hawks ended their 12-game winning streak in Florida. First they lost in Tampa 2-1, and then lost to the Panthers 4-0. So now we're the third team they face, and the Hawks have not lost three in a row in regulation at all this season. Let's all hope that doesn't bite us in the ass tonight.
There's probably no team in the league that requires a preview less than Chicago. Between the winning and the resulting bandwagon, the Chicago media market, the frequency of games against them, and the league promotion machine, this team is no stranger to us. Quenneville is an exceptional coach, they have a crap-load of talent, they seem to have a lucky horseshoe firmly crammed up their ass, and they employ some of the most punchable faces in the league. All of which will come into play tonight, I'm sure. One of the signs of their luck is that they've been healthy all year. Kane, Toews, Panarin, Seabrook, and Shaw have played all 51 games this year. The Blues have not been as fortunate, to say the least. However, help is on the way after the All Star break.
Obviously, the first step is stopping Patrick Kane, who leads the entire league in goals (30), assists (42), and of course total points (72). Captain Serious Jonathan Toews is second on the team in goals with 19, and rookie sensation Artemi Panarin is second in points with 45 (16G, 29A) [ NOTE: In the Wings preview, I declared Dylan Larkin "the consensus Calder favorite", totally overlooking Panarin. I blame the alcohol ]. With that crew up front, and the likes of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the blueline, they will be a formidable challenge. The last loss was with Scott Darling in net, so I'd expect our ol' buddy Corey Crawford in goal tonight. Crawford is having a pretty good year, running a .931 Sv% over the 40 games he's played in this year. Overall in his NHL career he's posted a .919, although against the Blues that drops to a .912 Sv%. I'd like to think that this is an advantage for us. I can't wait for me to be right in thinking that.
Since our last meeting the Hawks have traded Ryan Garbutt to Anaheim in exchange for Jiri Sekac . This is the last game before the All Star break for the Blues, so they should be able to play full-tilt all the way through. The Hawks have one more before their break begins. Kevin Shattenkirk is 1 point away from 200 as a Blues player, and this is the 700th game for David Backes, all with the Blues, so I'm sure he'll want to make it more memorable. Captain Dave is also 3 short of 200 career goals. I'm sure he'd like to reach that one tonight. They LOVE him in Chicago already, so accomplishing that would be even more enjoyable.
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Final Verse: A little earlier than usual, the puck drops at 6:00 PM St Louis time, and the GDT should drop shortly beforehand. Come join us. Bring beer, we'll supply the puppy gifs. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the raido call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. The Hawks had a 12-game winning streak recently, and a Blues win would put us just 2 points behind them in the standings. For those that like to blow up the team after every game, I hope that puts things in perspective.