Apr 6, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) is checked by Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks Series Preview

 

Two teams with high hopes, that would rather not be facing each other in the first round, square off against each other when the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues square off in round 1. Here is a series preview.

SEASON SERIES

 The Hawks beat the Blues twice in the last month, but the Blues won the season series by taking the first 3 matchups.

 

THE MATCHUPS

Goaltending

Ryan Miller was brought in to St. Louis to be the final piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle. While that might still come to fruition, Millers numbers behind the Blues’ defense is far inferior to what Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott posted.

Chicago won a cup last year with Corey Crawford, and will try to do so again.  He doesn’t get the respect he might deserve, but also isn’t going to win by himself.

Defense

This is a tough one to decide between.  Both sides have top end defensemen and depth that any other team would clamor for.  Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy anchor the Blackhawks while Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Barret Jackman are the key Blues.  All of them are top end defensemen who can put up points and also play in their own end.

Offense

Chicago is explosive, dynamic and deep.  St. Louis is more physical and grinding.  Their styles work for the way the coaches demand they play.  Many key players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko all missed time at the end of the season, but should be ready for game 1.

Special Teams

The respective power plays are pretty even, while the Blues’ PK is substantially better.  They have to be because the style they play leads to a lot of extra time in the penalty box.

INTANGIBLES

  • This series also features two of the best coaches going, each of whom have Stanley Cup rings.
  • It is also a contrast in style, and the Blues will try to punish the Hawks at every turn.

 

STORYLINES

  • Toews and Keith can become the only players ever to win a Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold in the same season on two different occasions.  Sharp can do it for the first time, while Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo can also join an exclusive Gold-Cup club.
  • Will the winner of this series be too beat up to face the winner of Minnesota – Colorado.
  • The Blues lost 6 straight and 7 of their last 10 to go from President’s Trophy candidate to allowing the Avalanche to pass them and instead of facing the Wild, get the Hawks.

 

PREDICTION

The Blues’ struggles down the stretch make it tough to predict what they will bring in the playoffs.  The Hawks have had success against physical teams before, and know what they are in for.

HAWKS IN 7.

 

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WHO WILL WIN BETWEEN ST. LOUIS AND CHICAGO

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Tags: Alex Pietrangelo David Backes Duncan Keith Jonathan Toews Patrick Kane Playoff Preview Ryan Miller

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