Well it’s that time of the year again, the start of the NHL playoffs are here and the St.Louis Blues are about to face one of their most hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. And anytime when the Blues and Blackhawks get together it’s a fun time for fans in St.Louis and Chicago. But, when it’s the playoffs the heat gets turned up higher than you can turn a knob on a range oven.
The Blues have not fared well against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champions now boast a 32-24 all-time playoff record against the Blues. And to be honest the “Notes” hasn’t done too well in the playoffs as of late. It’s become almost custom that by the time your grass turns green the Blues are normally dismissed from the playoffs.
Fans throughout the region are collectively cautiously optimistic that this could be the year the Blues advance at least out of the first round of the playoffs. Especially, after another strong regular season netting a total of 107 points, without having more than two players net 20 goals. Or even have two players over 50 points for the season. The Blues averaged under three goals a game ranked in the middle of the pack at 15. But, the Blues did make up for that cracking the top ten in three other important categories; Ranking 2,4, and 6 in penalty kill, goaltending, and power play, according to NHLreference.com. Coach Ken Hitchcock in a brief presser said that every person is available health wise and that Blues Captain David Backes will be ready to play according to ESPN.com.
The defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks bring plenty of offensive fireworks led by Patrick Kane’s 106 points and second leading goal scorer Artemi Panarin’s 30 goals and 47 assists. And they get plenty of offense from their defensemen as well. Defenseman Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are ranked 4 and 5 respectively on their team in regards scoring. And can’t leave out that the Blackhawks are steered by former Blues coach Joel Quenneville.
And in order for the Blues to have any success against the Blackhawks, they have to remain aggressive especially on the power play. I noticed several times throughout the season they would have the puck on the power play and 15-20 seconds would go by without a shot being taken on net. Also my eyes will be on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk a very talented player yet he is a –14 when it comes to plus/minus rating. And the Blues have shown a tendency to get caught flat-footed creating odd man rushes, that’s something this team can ill afford to do. Obvious goals will be at a premium in the NHL playoffs, sometimes all you need is one goal.
Regardless, it’s good to have some playoff sports in the city of St.Louis, let’s hope the Blues give the “blues” to someone else for a change this spring. And nothing would be sweeter than eliminating a rival.
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