The St. Louis Blues visit the United Center in Chicago for a divisional matchup against the rival Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm central time. This is always a toughly contested matchup. There have been many memorable moments between these two teams throughout the years, including an intense playoff matchup in 2014.
The Blues are sitting at 1-1-1, including an October 6th loss to Chicago. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have begun this season on a 4 game point streak, going 2-0-2 so far this season. This is a trend they will want to continue against their rival tonight. Both teams are listed at -110 in this game.
Small Sample Size
The Blackhawks’ stat sheet looks pretty good thus far in one category: they are second in the league in goals scored. The rest looks pretty meteocre. They are 27th in goals against, 25th in power play, 26th in in penalty kill, and 11th in penalty minutes. Their defense especially will have to improve, as they have given up as many goals as they have allowed this season, resulting in several overtime games. The Blues rank 17th in goals scored, 18th in goals against, 10th on the power play, 7th in penalty kill, and 9th in penalty minutes.
Jake Allen, unsurprisingly, is leading the Blues in all goaltending stats. He has allowed 4.28 goals per game, and has a .854 save percentage. He will need to greatly improve those stats against a Chicago offense that has shown themselves to be extremely capable of finding the back of the net. Ryan O’Reilly has been making his presence known since being acquired over the offseason by the Blues. He is leading the team in points with 4 assists. The leader in goals is David Perron, who has 3. Perron was another offseason addition.
For the Blackhawks, Cam Ward has a 4.41 goals against average, and an .867 save percentage. He, like Jake Allen, has yet to shut out a team. Both goaltenders will look to significantly improve their stats tonight. Ward will look to be what Ray Emery was to Corey Crawford back in their Stanley Cup days, a reliable veteran backup resurrecting their career and performing beyond expectations. On offense, Jonathon Toews has been on an unprecedented tear. He leads the team in points, with 8 on 5 goals and 3 assists. He is tied with Patrice Bergeron for 3rd in the league in goals and 5th in the league in points. 2017 1st round pick Henri Jokiharju leads the Blackhawks in assists, with 5, but has yet to find the back of the net himself.
Brandon Saad, due to not performing up to expectations, was moved from the second line to the fourth line. Look for him to try to show why he belongs back on the second line with a potential breakout performance tonight.
Blackhawks Top Blues
I like Chicago in this one. Both teams have shown themselves to be capable scoring the puck, but the Blackhawks have 5 more goals with only 1 more game played. With the added pressure on Brandon Saad and the performance that Jonathon Toews has shown, they seem like the better team to me at this juncture. This is not even mentioning the other great players in their core that have yet to play up to what they have shown themselves to be capable of.
This game will be decided by whose defense steps up. Especially with the drama of the benching of Blues defenseman Vince Dunn hovering, Chicago seems to be more apt to do that. While the Blues are a good team in their own right, I still like the Blackhawks by a goal or two. Bet on the Chicago Blackhawks at -110.
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