PUCK DROP: 7pm Central
TV/RADIO: NBCSN, WGN Radio 720
GOOD GOD DON’T GO THERE: St. Louis Gametime
The Hawks continue their home tour through what are perceived to be Western Conference powers, wrapping up against the Blues after seeing the Ducks and Kings in consecutive home games. Obviously, the Oilers on Sunday will break that streak (emphasis on “break” HAHAHA OILERS FANS I SUBSIST ON YOUR TEARS!) And just like every other time the Blues come in here for the first time in a season, they tell us it’s different this time. Sure it is Mr. Sherman…. everything stinks….
And once again, on paper, it looks like it could be different. The Blues have more skilled forwards than I can ever remember. This is a team that could roll out three or four scoring lines when everyone’s healthy if they really wanted to. There are a couple promising kids in Robby Fabbri and Ty Rattie, to go along with Schwartz and possibly top five player Tarasenko and a few others (and we may have to drop the “possibly” soon).
Ah, but that “when everyone’s healthy” part isn’t in the equation right now. Schwartz and Paul Stastny are both out until Christmas time and possibly the new year. Patrik Berglund is still recovering from shoulder surgery, if he did anything for you in the first place. Scottie Upshall may miss out tonight, letting Scott Gomez and his ol’ trick knee back into the lineup. Kevin Shattenkirk is also out tonight. Those absences have left abscesses like Ott, Purina dumpster resident Reaves, Kyle Brodziak in the line up.
On the ice, it also looks just a touch different. The Blues used to be all about shot suppression, which meant they didn’t mind giving up their blue line so that they could collapse between their own circles and block shots or prevent them from being taken at all. These days, they are trying to start their offense a little earlier by pressing at their own blue line, trying to deny entry and cause turnovers in the neutral zone to get their forwards the puck that much quicker. When fully healthy, you’d want to get Tarasenko, Lehtera, Brouwer, Schwartz, Stastny, Jaskin, Rattie, Fabbri and Steen the puck on the rush. Now whether they can stick to this when the chips are down, well, that’s the big question hanging over them all season.
As for the defense, there’s also a new kid there that has Blues fans spraying in their meth labs in Colton Parayko (he just had to be named Colton, didn’t he?). They’re already trying to pretend they never gave away Pronger for Eric Brewer because of this kid, as he’s a house with a big shot that’s already netted four goals. But whether he and the rest of the Blues’ blue line has enough speed to play at the pace they want to apparently play at now… well, that’s the other question.
It’ll be a rough turnaround for them tonight. After being well smothered by the Kings last night they had to fly into Milwaukee due to fog and bus down here, getting to their hotel at 4am. Don’t be shocked if you see a sluggish squad out there, to go with their sluggish fans. And while they may be tempted to test their new springy ways against the Hawks, chances are they go back to what brung them and just get pucks behind the Hawks’ unproven defensemen and just see if they can find their way out cleanly. They’ll certainly be trying to impose their size on the Hawks all over the ice, because that’s how they think score is kept.
As for the Hawks, it looks like it’ll be the same exact lineup as Monday’s win, as is the Q custom. Wouldn’t have minded seeing Tikhonov replace HEART MAN, but hardly a game-turner or anything. With the Hawks being even smaller than previous iterations that matched up with the Blues, though now faster too, they’ll have to play at a pace that keeps them from being caught by these drooling doofuses. Quick passes out of the zone, using the middle, and stretching behind the Blues when they can will be paramount. This is what the Hawks have done in the past, is keeping one forward streaking to keep the forecheck from getting too stupid. Corey Crawford is in net.
You’ve seen enough of these games to know how they go. This is a beat up Blues team on the second of a back-to-back, and they should fade as the game goes along trying to play at a high pace. It usually makes for good television either way.
If you’re heading to tonight’s game pick up a copy of our gameday program outside the UC. If you’re not, you can get the PDF version right here.