The NHL slows down a bit on Wednesday night with only four games. One of those games is a Central Division rivalry game between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues and the Blackhawks have both started out towards the bottom of the NHL, but could start to turn it around with a win on Wednesday night.
St. Louis has started the season with a 6-6-3 record. The Blues are currently sitting in seventh place in the Central Division. St. Louis has been playing much better as of recently. They have won four of their last six games. The Blues are coming off a tough loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks have gone 6-8-4 to begin this season. Chicago was on a solid roll to start the season, but have lost eight games in a row. The Blackhawks are in the sixth place of the Central Division, with one point over the Blues. Chicago came close to ending the losing streak with an overtime loss on Monday night to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Blackhawks will get another solid attempt with a home game against the Blues.
The Blues and the Blackhawks will meet for the fourth time on Wednesday night. St. Louis and Chicago will meet one more time near the end of the season on April 3. These teams have seen plenty of each other early in the season and I expect these two teams to have tight game plans for each other.
The first game of this season between the Blackhawks and Blues was hosted in St. Louis. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice, and Ryan O’Reilly had three assists for the Blues. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for Chicago. Jonathan Toews had a hat trick that included the game-winning goal in the third period. Chicago had a 5-4 win on the road.
The second game of the season series was held in Chicago. The Blues were led by Brayden Schenn, who had two goals, but it was not enough. Alex DeBrincat had two goals, while Artem Anisimov had a goal and an assist. Cam Ward stopped 35 of 38 shots. Chicago pulled off a 4-3 win.
The third and most recent game was held on October 27 in St. Louis. Artem Anisimov had a goal and two assists, while Patrick Kane scored two goals and added an assist. Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo and Zachary Sanford had a goal and two assists. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice as the Blues were finally able to break out for a 7-3 win.
The Blackhawks had a 2-1 edge in the season series over the Blues. St. Louis will look to even it up with a win on the road. These two teams were really close in their first two games, but the Blues were able to dominate in the third matchup. Chicago will look to clinch a winning record against St. Louis on Wednesday night.
St. Louis has done really solid on special teams to begin the new season. The Blues have had a power play percentage of 28 percent. St. Louis has stopped their opponent’s power plays 82 percent of the time. The Blues have been really solid on the special teams and it was a large part of their success in the third game this against Chicago this season.
The Blackhawks have had a lot of struggles on special teams this season. Chicago has scored on 12.5 percent of their power play opportunities. The Blackhawks has a penalty kill percentage of 74 percent. Chicago will have a tough job slowing down the Blues on special teams. The Blackhawks will need to avoid getting penalties.
St. Louis is without Robert Bortuzzo and Erik Foley on Wednesday night. The Blues may also be without Jay Bouwmeester and Brayden Schenn against the Blackhawks. If Schenn and Bouwmeester miss the game, it would really weaken the Blues lineup.
Chicago is without Connor Murphy due to a back injury. The Blackhawks could also be without Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad. Chicago has struggled to get either offense or defense going with any consistency, so losing two-way forwards like Saad and Kruger hurts the lineup.
The Blues will likely start Jake Allen in net on Wednesday night. Allen has posted a 4-3-3 record in his starts in net. He has a save percentage of .879 and 3.99 GAA this season. The Blues need Allen to put up better numbers if they want to continue to climb back up in the standings. He has not played well this season and struggled throughout last season. If Allen can not turn things around, he could be put up on the trade block.
I expect Corey Crawford to start in net for the Blackhawks. Crawford has posted a .901 save percentage and a GAA of 3.07. He has a record of 3-6 in his 9 starts this season. While Crawford’s record has been poor, his numbers are not terrible. He will look to help the Blackhawks end their losing streak on Wednesday night.
Both St. Louis and Chicago have struggled throughout the early parts of the season. The Blues started out very poor, but have started to step it up later in the season. The Blackhawks have gone in the opposite direction. Chicago has lost eight games in a row and I believe they could turn it around on Wednesday night.
BetOnline has the Blackhawks listed as a -114 money line. This implies that Chicago wins this game 53 percent of the time. I believe that the Blackhawks are likely to turn it around. With this game close to even in the money line and Chicago at home, the Blackhawks have a good chance to end their losing streak. Chicago has had success so far this season against the Blues.