Apr 6, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) is pursued by St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz (9) during the third period at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

St. Louis Blues (2nd Central) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (3rd Central)

Game #
14/17/20148:00 PMSt. LouisNBCSN
24/19/20143:00 PMSt. LouisNBC
34/21/20148:30 PMChicagoCNBC
44/23/20149:30 PMChicagoNBCSN
5*4/25/20148:00 PMSt. LouisNBCSN
64/27/20143:00 PMChicagoNBC
74/29/2014TBDSt. LouisTBD

Both the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues were decimated by injuries to close out the regular season. Chicago was without the services of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the final six games. The St. Louis Blues were missing no less than eight regular members of their lineup in the regular season finale against the Detroit Red Wings. Chicago will have a full and healthy lineup for game one and St. Louis will likely have the majority of their injured players back, with the exception of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrik Berglund.

St. Louis was widely believed to be the favorite for the Stanley Cup after they made a big splash on trade deadline day by trading for goaltender Ryan Miller with Buffalo. However, the injuries plagued St. Louis and Miller’s play suffered and the Blues went a disappointing 3-7-0 in their final 10 games.

The Blues used the time between the end of the regular season and Game 1 to mostly rest up and get healthy, only holding one practice during the break. St. Louis and Chicago met up five times during the regular season; the Blues winning the first three meetings (twice in the shootout) and Chicago winning the final two.

St. Louis is going to play the heavy hitting, physical style of play that they are known for. The Chicago Blackhawks will have to weather the punishment and avoid retaliation. During the regular season, St. Louis had a 19.8 PP%, which was good for a three way tie for 5th overall in the league.  [ NHL.com ] The Blues will try to get Chicago off their game and into the penalty box. It’s up to Chicago to keep their cool.

Chicago isn’t afraid to get physical either, but they will lean on their highly skilled offense to punish the Blues. Chicago finished the regular season second overall in goals per game with 3.18 (trailing only the Anaheim Ducks). [ NHL.com ]

Prediction: St. Louis in 7

This one is going to be a marathon for both of these teams. Chicago’s offense is going to be on display, but the Blues are going to punish the Blackhawks physically in every game. Ryan Miller will keep the Blues in the game and allow them to squeak by in Game 7.

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Tags: Central Division Chicago Blackhawks St.Louis Blues Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference

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