The Blackhawks will open the home portion of their 2013 schedule tonight against a familiar foe in the St Louis Blues. As much as I despise the Blues, I do enjoy the fact that them being relevant again as revived a storied rivalry between these two teams that has recently loss some steam. Last year the Central Division had four teams with over 100 points. With the Red Wings and Predators losing some key players in the offseason, the Blackhawks and Blues seem to be the class of the division this year. Both teams have gotten off to fast start offensively, with the two teams combining for 21goals in their first two games.
Corey Crawford will return to the goal crease tonight and looks to build on a solid performance last Saturday versus the Kings. Don't look for changes to the lineup we saw on Sunday against the Coyotes. Michal Rozsival will be the 6th defenseman again tonight. This should be no surprise after his 2 assist performance in his debut. The Blackhawks will hold their opening night tradition of the red carpet ceremony before the game tonight. In a smart move, this year's event will take place inside the United Center, on the 100 level concourse. The gates will open at 4:30 with the event kicking off at 5:00.
The Blues looked like world beaters with a 6-0 thrashing of the Wings on Saturday. They came back down to earth a bit with a 4-3 shootout over the Predators last night in Nashville. Brian Elliot will make his first start of the season tonight. Elliot was called into duty after coach Ken Hitchcock pulled Jaroslav Halak late in the second period last night. Elliot did not give up any goals on the 13 shots he faced and was a perfect 2 for 2 in the shootout. One of the few players that are as hot as Marian Hossa right now is rookie winger Vladmir Tarasenko, who has 3 goals and 2 assists in his first two NHL games. Tarasenko has been very impressive and the Hawks will have to be aware of where he is on the ice at all times. The Blues have scored on 5 or their 7 power plays this year, so the perfect Hawks PK unit will be tested tonight.
It should a fun night a fun night back at the Madhouse. A 3-0 start would be huge so hopefully the Blackhawks will keep the momentum rolling.