Tonight on the ice, a pair of teams from the Central Division will square off as the St Louis Blues rumble with the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Blues will be playing this game on no rest as they have a home game against the Rangers on Saturday, while the Blackhawks are off a 5-3 road loss to the Sabres on Saturday. Goalie Probables: The Blues will be sending out Carter Hutton and he will be opposed by Anton Forsberg.
The Blues are Looking To Make Up Ground
The St Louis Blues have been in the race for a playoff spot all year, but they have been sliding of late as they have gone 3-10 in their last 13 games (Prior to Saturday). They are still in the race, but they have to turn things around as they are now five points out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference playoff standings. They really need to win this game against the lowly Blackhawks if they hope to keep their playoff chances alive. The offense has been their issue of late as they have scored a total of 27 goals in their last 13 games, with 11 of those goals coming in two games. The Blues have scored 13 total goals in their last 10 losses, so getting their offense is crucial for them or they will not make up the ground needed to get into the postseason. The Blues have gone 17-18 on the road and they have averaged 2.69 gpg and have allowed 2.77 gpg in those games.
Jake Allen is slated to get the start on Saturday, so for this one, it may be Carter Hutton, who is listed as questionable. Hutton has gone 16-10 with a 2.02 GAA and a .934 save percentage on the year, including 6-5 with a 2.27 GAA and a .926 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 34-37 with a 2.47 GAA on the road and 14-25 with a 2.73 GAA against the Central Division, while against the Blackhawks he has gone 0-2 with a 2.47 GAA. If he can’t go then it will be Ville Husso, who would be making his first-career start. Husso was 14-12 with a 2.31 GAA and a .927 save percentage for the San Antonio Rampage this year.
The Blues come into this contest ranked 25th in the league in scoring at 2.70 gpg, while also ranking 12th in shots taken (32.9 spg) and 30th in power play conversions, converting on 15.0% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been very good as they come in ranked 7th in goals allowed, giving up 2.66 gpg, while also ranking 5th in shots allowed (30.1 spg) and 13th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 18.8% of their chances.
There Is Always Next Year Chicago
The Blackhawks had a nice run going as they made it to the playoffs for nine years in a row and they had three Stanley Cup Tiles in their last eight seasons, but all of that will come to an end this year. The Blackhawks enter this game off a 5-3 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and they have now lost seven of their last 10 games to fall to 18 points out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference playoff standings. Their big issue of late has been their play in the crease as they have now allowed an average 4.33 gpg over their last nine games. They will have to address that in the offseason. Scoring in the loss to the Sabres was Jordan Oesterle, which was his 5th of the year, Tomas Jurco, which was his 4th and Jonathan Toews, which was his 20th. The Blackhawks have gone 17-18 here at home for the year and they have averaged 2.89 gpg and have allowed 2.49 gpg in those games.
Anton Forsberg is slated to get the start in this one and he has gone 9-18 with a 3.04 GAA and a .905 save percentage on the year, including 4-7 with a 2.28 GAA and a .929 save percentage here at home. In his career, he has gone 5-10 with a 2.66 GAA in his home games and 1-7 with a 3.19 GAA against the Central Division. This will be his first-career start against the Blues.
Chicago has been a bit below average on offense this year so far as they come in ranked 19th in the league in scoring at 2.82 gpg, while also ranking 4th in shots taken (34.3 spg) and 28th in power play conversions, converting on 15.7% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been below average so far as they are ranked 19th in goals allowed, giving up 2.99 gpg, while also ranking 22nd in shots allowed (32.5 spg) and 14th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 19.1% of their chances.
St Louis is:
- 121-59 in their last 180 vs. a team with a losing record
- 23-6 in their last 29 games playing on 0 days rest
- 14-29 in their last 43 vs. a team with a winning record
- 3-10 in their last 13 games playing on 0 days rest
The Blues need this game in the worst way and i see them getting the win. The Blackhawks have really thrown in the towel of late, especially in the crease as they have allowed 4.33 gpg over their last nine games. The Blues have had their issues scoring of late, but that should change in this one, even though the Blackhawks have allowed just 2.49 gpg at home. Chicago has picked up their offense of late, but still, they just won’t have enough to get the win in this one. St Louis has struggled in this series of late, but they cannot afford to lose this game if they hope to get in the postseason.