Fierce rivals will meet for a Black Friday showdown when the St. Louis Blues visit the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. St. Louis enters in second place in the Central Division at 10-7-2 after taking a 4-2 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday as a -130 favorite. Chicago is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday as a +187 road underdog and is struggling overall at 6-11-2.
These teams met on October 30 in St. Louis, with the Blues winning 1-0. St. Louis has beaten Chicago in five straight head-to-head meetings dating back to April of 2019.
Blues lose for seventh time in 10 gamesAfter a red-hot start to the season, St. Louis has been in a bit of a slump this month, and took another loss on Wednesday night against a Detroit team that was also struggling coming in. Pavel Buchnevich got the Blues on the board at the 10:11 mark of the first on the power play, and they would tie the score at two early in the third on David Perron's goal, only for Detroit to dominate the rest of the period.
Jordan Kyrou provided two assists for the Blues, while backup goaltender Ville Husso stopped 19 of 22 Red Wings shot attempts in a spot start. The Blues largely carried the run of play with 37 shots on goal, but couldn't solve the Detroit defense, which blocked 16 attempts on the night.
"We made a few too many defensive mistakes tonight," Kyrou said to NHL.com. "We have to be better at that, and I'm including myself there."
St. Louis is narrowly up on the puck line at 10-9 for the season and has been profitable on the money line overall thanks to its hot start before the recent skid. Overs are 8-10-1 for the Blues so far, and just one of their last five games has gone over the betting total.
Even with a slight slump the Blues are still a top 10 scoring offense with 3.31 goals on 34.31 shots per game this season. St. Louis' defense is closer to the league average, with opponents putting up 2.78 goals and 31 shots per contest.
Kyrou has been St. Louis' most productive player this year with eight goals and 12 assists. Brandon Saad matches him atop the Blues leaderboard with eight goals, while Robert Thomas has racked up a team-high 15 assists. Goaltender Jordan Binnington has been sharp in 14 starts with a .914 save percentage and 2.79 goals against average.
Defender Robert Bortuzzo has missed the last two games with an undisclosed issue and his status is unknown for Friday. Winger James Neal has been sidelined for a month by an undisclosed injury yet is still considered day-to-day.
Blackhawks falter late in finale of tough road tripThe Blackhawks have generally been playing a lot better the last three weeks after a horrendous start, but just ran out of gas in the third period on Tuesday to close out a difficult road trip in Calgary. After the Flames took a lead just 70 seconds in, Brandon Hagel tied things midway through the first and Reese Johnson once again evened the score early in the second on his first NHL, yet couldn't hang on as the Flames scored three goals over a span of 5:10 in the third period.
sneaky Reese— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) November 24, 2021
that's a stealth first NHL goal if we've ever seen one! pic.twitter.com/rJ3H7dAc2K
Johnson also had an assist, along with Ryan Carpenter getting credited for a helper. Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a strong performance with 34 saves, as the Flames dominated the total shot attempts 39-21.
"The consistency of playing a certain way is not there yet, but it’s getting there,” interim coach Derek King said to the Associated Press. “I know these guys, going in there after the game they were disappointed. As the season has gone so far, that’s a positive that they are upset about it."
Chicago also hasn't been great against the spread at 8-11 and remains well down on the money line after struggling badly early in the season. Overs are an even 8-8-3 for the Blackhawks, with three of their last four games going over the betting total.
It hasn't been pretty statistically in any facet for the Blackhawks, who are averaging just 2.21 goals and 28.05 shots per game, although slowly trending in the right direction. Chicago's defense has also struggled, with opponents racking up 3.31 goals and 32.7 shots per game.
Veteran Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in points with six goals and 11 assists. Alex DeBrincat is atop the Chicago leaderboard with 11 goals to go along with his three assists, while offseason addition Seth Jones has dished out 13 assists. Fleury had a horrendous start with his new team but has been better lately, compiling a .912 save percentage and 3.06 goals against average overall.
Defenseman Riley Stillman left a game last weekend against the Edmonton Oilers with a lower-body injury and is out. Centers Andrew Shaw (concussion) and MacKenzie Entwhistle (ankle) are also on injured reserve, along with winger Tyler Johnson (neck soreness).
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Full-Game Side Bet
Even though the Blues have not played their best over the last few games, this is still a talented and well-rounded team with a good opportunity to get right in this contest. Most of Chicago's wins during a min-surge over the last couple of weeks have come against weak opposition, and a struggling offense will struggle to match St. Louis' firepower.
Advanced metrics are still not kind to the Blackhawks despite their four-game winning streak last week, and they rank last in the NHL with a 44.35% Corsi for on the season. The Blackhawks defense has its fair share of problems, but an offense that is also at the bottom of the league leaderboard in expected goals for is the main source of concern right now.
St. Louis' offense far outpaces the Blackhawks with top 10 numbers pretty much across the board and is now just about fully healthy for the first time all year after some players were in and out of COVID protocol earlier. Chicago won its first four games under the interim coaching staff but is since back to struggling, and the Blues are simply the far better team.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Blues hot start was largely fueled by a defense that wasn't giving up many goals, but that was never going to last as they have given up the fifth-most high-danger chances in the NHL. Regression has hit hard over the last 10 games, and that could help out a Blackhawks offense that has at least shown some slight improvement since the coaching change.
St. Louis offsets those defensive struggles by having a strong offense, as a healthier Vladimir Tarasenko has played much better this season to give some star power to a unit that already has great depth. The Blues look likely to play a lot of high-scoring games this year and will do plenty of damage to the woeful Chicago defense on Friday.