EDIT: You hate to see it:
The Blackhawks will dress 11 forwards and six defensemen tonight. I've never seen that.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 2, 2019
Strome, Caggiula, Shaw and Keith are out. Lehner is sick, necessitating the Lankinen call-up, which puts the Blackhawks against the cap, which prevents them from calling up another skater.
The Blues and the Blackhawks have one of hockey’s storied rivalries. Sure, they haven’t hated each other as long as the Canadiens and Leafs, or the Habs and Bruins, but over the last 53 seasons these two teams have gone after each other with gusto.
The Hawks had their three Stanley Cups to begin the decade, and the Blues won their first Cup to conclude it. The teams’ trajectories have born out a bit differently. Salary cap and age concerns have seen the Blackhawks linger at the bottom of the Central Division for the past few seasons. The Blues, after winning the Cup, haven’t exhibited any signs of a hangover. Despite losing major players, including Vladimir Tarasenko, the team’s depth has come to the rescue. The Blues are 5-2-3 in their last ten despite being the walking wounded, and they’re riding a three game win streak and a four game point streak. Saturday night they dismantled the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 thanks to complete team-buy in, call-up or not.
There’s something about this team, something that we saw develop last season: there’s no quit.
Don’t let the 15 point game between first and last in the Central lull you into a false sense of complacency. The Blackhawks got shellacked Saturday night by the Avalanche, 7-3, with goaltender Robin Lehner allowing five goals on just 14 shots. Colorado swarmed the goaltenders all night, and that’s what the Blues need to do here. They’re 1-4-1 in their last five, and their coach and goalie aren’t saying the most hopeful of things to the press.
“We have to wake up, we have to turn it around,” Lehner told NHL.com after the game. “It’s just time to look ourselves in the mirror and do the right thing, it’s what it’s all about. It’s on us as players to do the right thing.”
“As a group we’ve got to commit to doing it every single shift,” added Blackhawks Head Coach Jeremy Colliton. “Not every shift is going to be perfect, but the intentions have to be perfect and I don’t think we can say that (right now).”
This is the kind of team that the Blues need to jump all over and jump all over fast, especially in the United Center. The Hawks are 7-6-2 at home this season and taking that crowd out of it shouldn’t be tough - but the Blackhawks doing the opposite of that is probably tops on their to do list.
The Blues and Blackhawks like heading to overtime to decide things, and the Blues have been the kings of the one goal game this season. A big statement game like Saturday night’s win over the Penguins would be just the thing to start the month of December off on the right foot. Last season the Hawks took four out of five from the Blues. In the grand scheme of things that didn’t matter, but it would behoove the Blues to not hand over two points to anyone in the division unless they can help it. They’re 5-1-1 against the Central so far. Let’s make it 6-1-1 tonight.