NHL Playoffs: A Black and Blue Matchup
They've been going at it all year; for decades in fact. Now the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues continue their ancient, bitter rivalry on the postseason ice in the first-round series that starts Wednesday. Looking at this huge series, it is hard to discern who will come out on top. Let's see how they stack up.
The Blues lead the regular season series between the two, 3-2, including a victory in their rubber match just last week. St. Louis ended the season with 107 points in the standings to Chicago's 104. The Blues also ended the season winning eight of their last 10 while Chicago closed out by losing their last two and were 5-2-3 in the last 10. In the playoffs, though, the defending champs haven't lost in the first round since 2012, while the Blues have disappointed by losing in the first round for each of the last three years.
The Blackhawks carry plenty of scoring punch, averaging 2.9 goals per game behind the powerful Patrick Kane-Artemi Panarin line. Kane has collected 107 points this year, while Panarin had 77.
The Blues averaged 2.7 goal per game, behind Vladimir Tarasenko's 74 points and Alexander Steen's 52. Another leader, center Paul Backes has missed the last few games with a shoulder injury, but is expected to return.
On the defensive end, the Blues have a 2.4 goals against average to Chicago's 2.5. St. Louis goalkeeper Brian Elliott comes in winning three of his last five and holds a 2.07 GAA.
Chicago's Corey Crawford has just returned from a month-long injury absence and got dusted up pretty bad on his return, allowing five goals against Columbus.
So there you have it. The last time the two met in the playoffs was 2014 when the Blackhawks won a hard-fought six-games series. The Blues will have home-ice advantage in the series and appear to have the momentum going into the postseason. But there are few who think the Hawks can't win this series, because of the recent playoff history of the two teams. I'd be willing to take a plus figure for either of these two to win the series. I'm looking for anything better than +120 for any individual game in the series, too. Watch the goalkeepers for an over/under angle at some point.
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