ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 8: Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Scottrade Center on November 8, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the Blackhawks 3-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Blues are trying to clinch the Central Division title for the first time since 2000, and a win over the Blackhawks will help them get back on top of the NHL.
The Blues are 2-2-1 against the Chicago Blackhawks this season, with their last game on March 13th being one to forget. The Blues blew a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 in a shootout, the first time this season that they had lost a game when scoring three goals. The seven avoidable penalties taken against the Hawks cost St. Louis the game. Fortunately, the Blues have tightened up significantly, and are fighting to make these last five games successful ones by any means necessary. Chicago'd like to have home ice in the playoffs. The Blues? The Presidents' Trophy.
Goaltender Ray Emery was in net for all three Blues goals on the 13th, while Corey Crawford blocked all 18 shots that came his way in relief. Chicago doesn't have a go-to starter per se, and not for the positive reasons the Blues have. While Ken Hitchcock had issues choosing tonight's goalie (Jaroslav Halak) because he's working with the league's best tandem, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has two fairly unstable guys on the bench to choose from. Crawford's been playing better lately, but he's still easily exploitable.
The Hawks are without key defenseman Duncan Keith, who will be serving game three of a five game suspension for elbowing Daniel Sedin in the head on March 21st. They've lost their first two games without him, and are still without team captain Jonathan Toews who has been out since February 19th with a concussion.
Alexander Steen, recent concussion victim himself, has played very well since his return Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes. He assisted on Jamie Langenbrunner's first period goal Tuesday night against the Predators. Fellow concussed forward Matt D'Agostini has been activated from injured reserve. He and Andy McDonald are not in tonight, but both could be back on Saturday. There's no point in rushing the players -- the Blues are assured of a playoff spot, and a healthy McDonald and D'Agostini are worth more then than two still sore players now.