End Game: Blackhawks vs. Blues Preview

The last game under this iteration of Second City Hockey. Better make it a good one.

The Chicago Blackhawks continue their four-game home stand with their final game against the St. Louis Blues of the season. The Blackhawks have eight games left this season and have once again fallen behind (ahead of?) the San Jose Sharks for second-place in the Connor Bedard race. They could be number one again, as the Blue Jackets are one point behind with a game in hand.

The Blackhawks need to lose this game in order to keep themselves in good position for the best draft lottery odds. Luckily, while the Blues are just two spots ahead of the Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, the Blues have a much more high-powered offense.

That offense comes despite the Blues trading off players like Ivan Barbashev, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly at the trade deadline. The Blackhawks similarly sold, but were in better draft position when they did so.

Unfortunately for St. Louis, unlike the Blackhawks, the players the Blues brought in during the deadline are now powering the team to wins, continuing to blow their draft odds. In 12 games, Jakub Vrana’s scored eight goals. Sammy Blais has eight in 23 games and Kasperi Kapanen seven in 15.

The Blues have used that offense for a 2-1 record against Chicago this season, as St. Louis has outscored the Blackhawks 11-8 in those games.

Meanwhile, the Blues are one of the worst teams in terms of possession, alongside the Hawks, although their offense makes up for it with a 11.3 shooting percentage across all strengths — the third-best in the NHL.

The Blues are led by Jordan Kyrou, Pavel Buchnevich and Robert Thomas, a trio of 20-somethings with 60+ points a piece (Kyrou’s at 68, including 33 goals; Buchnevich at 66 and 25 goals and Thomas at 63 points and 17 goals). Two-time Hawk Brandon Saad’s scored 18 goals and 32 points.

St. Louis’s goaltender Jordan Binnington may attempt to fight the Blackhawks’ netminder at some point during this game, but comes in with just a .891 save percentage this season. The Blues’ backup Thomas Greiss isn’t much better, sitting at a .900 save percentage. 22-year-old Joel Hofer is the Blues’ best goaltender this season, with a .915 save percentage in five games.

The Blackhawks need to lose this game. The Blues want to lose this game. This should be fun.

Let’s go IceHogs.

Tale of the Tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Blues

43.26% (31st) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 45.8% (27th)

41.78% (31st) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 44.69% (28th)

2.41 (32nd) — Goals per game — 3.23 (16th)

3.57 (25th) — Goals against per game — 3.66 (27th)

52.8% (6th) — Faceoffs — 48.9% (20th)

15.7% (31st) — Power play — 20.6% (20th)

76.1% (20th) — Penalty kill — 74.5% (27th)

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Radio: WGN 720