NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 27th
(All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (36-6-5) at St. Louis Blues (28-17-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues will try to secure home-ice advantage
in the opening round of the playoffs when they host the top-seeded Chicago
Blackhawks in Saturday's regular-season finale at Scottrade Center.
The Blues hold a one-point edge over San Jose and Los Angeles for the fourth
seed in the Western Conference and can clinch the spot with a win over the
Blackhawks. The Sharks and Kings also are finishing their regular seasons on
Saturday by facing off against each other in Los Angeles.
St. Louis has won two straight and five of their last six, giving the club a
superb 11-3-0 record in April. The Blues will also try for a sixth straight
home win when they wrap the regular season with the finale of a three-game
The Blues outscored the opposition by a combined 7-2 score over their last two
games, but head coach Ken Hitchcock still wasn't satisfied after Thursday's
4-1 win over Calgary.
"I don't care if its 4-1 or whatever," said St. Louis head coach Ken
Hitchcock. "We had too many sloppy plays in the third period that could have
ended up in our net. Our goalie made four great saves, and you can't make
those mistakes either."
Ryan Reaves scored two goals for the Blues, who vaulted from sixth to fourth
place in the Western Conference standings with the win. Andy McDonald and
Alexander Steen each posted a goal while Brian Elliott stopped 18 shots for
St. Louis has nearly identical records at home and on the road this season,
going 14-8-1 at Scottrade Center and 14-9-1 everywhere else.
The Blues are also getting healthier as the playoffs draw near. Goaltender
Jaroslav Halak hasn't played since April 1 due to a groin injury, but he was
available as the backup to Elliott on Thursday and could get the start in the
Halak is 6-5-1 with a 2.14 goals against average in 16 games this season.
St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie hasn't played since March 28 due to a left ankle
injury that required surgery. Oshie, who had seven goals and 13 assists in 30
games this year, will miss today's game, but St. Louis expects him to be ready
for the opening game of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks have already clinched the Presidents' Trophy, meaning they
have secured home-ice advantage through the entire playoffs. Despite that firm
standing, Chicago has a chance to end the regular season on a three-game
winning streak tonight.
Chicago picked up its second straight win in Friday's home game against the
Calgary Flames. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews scored one goal apiece and the
Blackhawks held off Calgary for the 3-1 win.
Marcus Kruger added a goal and Corey Crawford made 25 saves for the
"We're just playing the moment. We haven't gotten ahead of ourselves all year,
and now is not the time to do so," Crawford said. "We feel good right now and
we're just focused on the task at hand."
The Blackhawks will open the playoffs against either Detroit, Minnesota or
Columbus -- the three teams fighting over the final two playoff seeds in the
Chicago is 3-0-1 against the Blues this season and has won five of six overall
in this series. The Blackhawks have taken two in a row and three of four in
the Gateway City.
04/27 11:02:28 ET