Tonight the St Louis Blues play their final game before the break for the All Star game. The time off is a welcome break considering all the injuries to the St Louis Club. The Blues will be visiting the Chicago Blackhawks who are top of the Central Division (and Western Conference as a whole) with a 32-15-4 record and 68 points. The Blues are in third place with their 28-15-8 record and 64 points. Tonight’s game is set to start at 7:00 PM ET/ 6:00 PM CT.
Preview: This is the third of 5 games between the rival Blues and Blackhawks. The first two games were split with one win a piece. On November 4 in Chicago the Blues came back from a 5-2 deficit only to win the game (6-5) in overtime with a goal from Vladimir Tarasenko. Remember Roar Bacon? The next game on November 14 was calmer but the Blues fell to the Hawks 4-2 in St Louis.
The Blues are looking to go out strong before this 8 day break. A win tonight would leap them ahead of the Stars in the standings and put them back in second place. All-in-all not a bad place to be half way through the season.
Tonight Captain David Backes will be making his 700th start with the team. This makes him just the fifth player in team history to reach this milestone. “It’s gone by pretty quick,” Backes said. “It feels like yesterday I was flying to Pittsburgh for my first game. It’s been a heck of a ride, with hopefully a lot more to go and hopefully more success to come.” Backes has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games against Chicago. (blues.nhl)
The Blues have been relying heavily on the young-guns this season, and especially recently with all the injuries in the Blues’ lineup. Robby Fabbri, a regular on the roster, has been impressive this year recording 11 goals and 7 assists. He may be smaller than some in the lineup (he is only 20 years old), but he has great speed and skill to make up for it. His first career NHL multi-point game was against Chicago on November 4 when he recorded a goal and an assist. Ty Rattie is another addition to the roster. He has been called up recently and has been giving his all. Since being called up he has recorded 3 goals, his first 3 career NHL goals. Keep it up guys.
The Blackhawks enter tonight on a bit of a losing streak. After going on a 12-game winning streak, they lost their last 2 games in Florida. Not only did they lose 2 games, but they were only able to score 1 goal total across the two games. Ouch.
Brian Elliott is going to make his 8th straight start tonight. He is 5-1-1 is his last 7 games (allowing 8 goals in 4 games). He will be facing Corey Crawford in net for the Hawks. Crawford has allowed 2 or fewer goals in his last 5 starts. He has a 27-11-2 record with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. (blackhawks.nhl).
Injury Report: Jake Allen is out with a lower-body injury. Jaden Schwartz is out with his broken ankle. Robert Bortuzzo is out with a lower-body injury. Magnus Paajarvi is out with an upper-body injury. Steve Ott remains out with his hamstring injury.
Let’s Go Blues!
Review: The Blues were in Colorado to play the Avalanche on Friday. Colorado was still without Erik Johnson. It proved to be another close one between the two Central Division rivals.
Late in the first period Blues’ Brian Elliott gets the referee’s attention and then quickly makes his way to the bench. Something is obviously wrong. He takes off his mask and the trainer is there looking at his eye. After some time they show on TV how the tip of Carl Edmundson’s blade went through the cage of Elliott’s mask and got him right around the eye area. After some time Elliott was able to return to the game. I think you could hear all the St Louis Blues fans breathing again when he returned to the game.
With only 2:39 remaining in the second period Troy Brouwer was able to steal a clearing attempt by the Avalanche. Brouwer got the puck to Alexander Steen for the one-timer. The shot went right through the legs of Semyon Varlamov for the goal. The Blues were up 1-0.
The third period saw some great saves by Varlamov. He gave his team the opportunity to come back. Varlamov even made a great save on a breakaway attempt by Vladimir Tarasenko, and not many goalies do that.
Early in the period Colton Parayko took a puck to the face and left for the locker room with blood coming from his mouth. We never want to see that. Never fear, Parayko is OK. The pictures look gross, but he is OK.
There was a point when the Avalanche thought that they had scored but it was waved off by the ref. The puck did indeed cross the line and enter the goal, but the ref had lost sight of the puck and was in the process of blowing his whistle. So, the goal did not count. This took a lot of discussion.
It was looking as if the Steen goal was going to stand up, but you should never leave until the final buzzer. Colorado pulled Varlamov and had the extra attacker on the ice. Tyson Barrie passed to Matt Duchene, who in turn sent a pass to the opposite side of the net and Nathan MacKinnon. With 53.7 remaining in regulation MacKinnon had an open side of the net for an easy shot in. Tie game 1-1.
This game ultimately went to a shootout. None of the Blues were able to get the puck by Varlamov for a goal, but Gabriel Landeskog was able to backhand one past Elliott’s toe and in for the win. The Final in the Shootout: Blues 1, Avalanche 2.
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr