Gameday: Blues at Blackhawks

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (27) fights for space with Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad (20). (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

12/2: Blues/Blackhawks, United Center, 7:30pm CT – FSMW, ESPN 101.1

CHICAGO – The St. Louis Blues (17-5-6) reignite their division rivalry tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks (10-11-5). Two different players scored their first goals for St. Louis on Saturday night in a 5-2 win against Pittsburgh, including Australian native Nathan Walker. Walker’s goal was his first goal since October 2017, when he scored in his NHL debut with Washington. “Unreal. Saturday night in the Lou. It doesn’t get much better than that,” Walker told the media afterwards.

The Blackhawks are desperately trying to scrape together wins, sitting dead last in the Central Division after a 3-7 blowout loss against the Colorado Avalanche. With that loss, they are 1-4-1 in their last 6 games, four of those games coming against division opponents.

“Yeah, they’re a good team,” Alex DeBrincat said in the Chicago Tribune. “But we’re a good team too. We didn’t play well. That’s the score, you can see it right there. We can compete with those guys, there’s no doubt about it, but today we were not on.”

The Blues and Hawks play for the first time this season, after playing only once in the last calendar year, a 4-3 shootout loss in early April. The two teams meet again in St. Louis in December, and play a total of four times this season. The Blues play on Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN 101.1 tonight at 7:30pm CT.

Confidence Boost

It’s no secret that the Blues are shorthanded more notably than most teams. Their prime scorer Vladimir Tarasenko is out until the playoffs (optimistically), Sammy Blais is out until after the All-Star Game, and Alex Steen and Oskar Sundqvist are hopefully close to turning the corner. Three of those players have at least 8 points, and Sundqvist is already 3rd on the team in goals (8).

Despite the injuries, the Blues are winning games thanks to the “next-man-up” mentality. As soon as one player goes down, the next player takes on the role of getting the job done for them. Ivan Barbashev, for instance, has 2 goals and 6 points in three games. Oskar Sundqvist, even with his injury, is on pace for a career-high 23 goals. Even David Perron continued his point streak to 7 games after the win against Pittsburgh.

Call it dividends of winning the Cup, but everyone from Nathan Walker to Ryan O’Reilly are seeing major confidence boosts even without major pieces of their roster healthy. Berube has noted as much, particularly of Barbashev as well.

“Whatever we ask of [Barbashev]: he can play center here, wing here, he does it. He does everything for us,” Head Coach Craig Berube told the Post-Dispatch. “Probably deep down within him he wants to score more and put more points up —everybody does — and he has the capability of doing it and he’s doing it now. That’s what it really boils down to.”

All-Star Voting Opens

The voting for the all-star game opened up this weekend, and St. Louis fans should be excited to see four of their players could represent the host arena at Enterprise. Jordan Binnington, Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, and Brayden Schenn are among the 26 players in the Central Division you can vote for, up to 10 times per day, as the team captain for the Central. You can vote for those players here:

https://www.nhl.com/all-star-ballot?partnerId=vanityVoteRedirect

The 2020 NHL All-Star game is in St. Louis, starting on January 26th. Despite the sluggish standings, Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane is a likely contender as well, riding a 15-game point streak with 14 goals and 33 points on the season. The 31-year-old superstar seems far from done, earning the NHL’s 3rd Star of the Month honors for November, while joining elite Blackhawks company with his 600th assist.

“It think whether it’s, you know, every time you’re on the ice, every day in general, you’re trying to pick up something just to better yourself. So I think that’s always something that I’ve kinda tried to do,” Patrick Kane told WGN-9.

Blue Notes

David Perron has extended his point streak to 7 games, scoring 3 goals and 5 assists.

Three different players scored their first point with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (Nathan Walker, Justin Faulk, Jacob de la Rose).

Tyler Bozak played his 100th game with the Blues on Saturday.

The Blues and Blackhawks play at United Center in Chicago tonight at 8:30 pm ET. To follow tonights action, head to:

STL: FSMW, ESPN 101.1, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com

CHI: NBCSCH, WGN 720, NHL.com

For local Blues stories, recaps, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!

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