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Blackhawks begin weekend back-to-back in St. Louis

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Chicago gets its first taste of a Central Division opponent.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

For the first game of the Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season, they faced the Ottawa Senators, a team that the majority of projections had ticketed for the bottom of the NHL.

In Chicago’s second game, they’ll get the opposite.

It’s the St. Louis Blues hosting the Blackhawks on Saturday night, fresh off a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. After missing out on the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues were one of the busiest teams in the offseason. Trades brought in plenty of talent, including forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, David Perron and Patrick Maroon. And those players get added to a forward group that included Brayden Schenn, who had 70 points last season, and perennial 30-goal scorer Vladimir Tarasenko. Despite the slow start in that first game, the Blues should not have much trouble scoring goals this season.

It may be a different case on the other end of the ice. Alex Pietrangelo has consistently been one of the top defenders in the division, and there’s a decent supporting cast with players like Colton Parayko and youngster Vince Dunn taking on increasingly bigger roles. But the real mystery remains in net with goaltender Jake Allen. Winnipeg lit Allen up for five goals on just 25 shots on Thursday night, a bad omen for a goaltender whose numbers have steadily gotten worse over the last three seasons.

For Chicago, it’ll be Cam Ward back in net on Saturday night after picking up a win in his Blackhawks debut on Thursday night. Anton Forsberg is also expected to be the backup after he exited Thursday’s morning skate with an injury that forced the Blackhawks to temporarily recall Collin Delia from the AHL. But Forsberg was back at practice on Friday and Delia was sent back to Rockford. Everything else about the lineup appears to be the same as Thursday — and hopefully that includes the result.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Blues

How to watch

Start time: 7 p.m. Central

Location: Enterprise Center, St. Louis

TV: NBC Sports Chicago