Come on, who didn’t think St. Louis and Chicago would head back to the Windy City for the Stanley Cup playoffs first round battle tied at 1-1? Show of hands if you thought differently. Exactly!
The two games have been tighter than yoga pants on Jen Salter and even the change of venue does not figure to alter that situation once. St. Louis won the series opener in OT on a fluky goal off a Chicago defenseman’s skate. In Friday night’s contest, the Blackhawks won a very late challenge on apparent Blues goal, which kept the game tied at 1-1 and Chicago went on to even the series with 3-2 triumph.
This contest will be nationally televised on NBC at 3:05 Eastern and the NHL odds have Chicago at -150 with total at Un5 at JustBet. Who should be on your radar?
Though the Blues were fortunate to win Game 1, they did not get one call at home in the next contest. Coach Ken Hitchcock talked after the loss the Stanley Cup champions are going to get the benefit of the doubt on calls. In the past, this is where St. Louis would begin to unravel, but the players in the locker room kept their cool, talked about the first team to win four games in the series advances no matter what happens and seemed already focused on next encounter.
Once again the bruising Blues dominated the hits at 41-25 (now 82-49 edge) and it will be imperative to play the same way in the first period, especially since the Hawks figure to be flying. One area Coach Hitchcock will talk to his faceoff men about is winning more of them. After having a nice edge in the first game, St. Louis was outmaneuvered 36-28 in this statistic and if this happens on the road, if could be game over for the Blues.
Otherwise, St. Louis has to keep working to find more scoring chances with only three goals in six-plus periods.
On this ice, Patrick Kane and the other Chicago players look like they are gliding above the ice and are simply faster than everyone else, which is partially true. St. Louis knows if they allow the Blackhawks to play their game in the opening period, this could be a 2-0 or worse game after 20 minutes.