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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Pinkert has covered the St. Louis Blues for more than seven seasons and will frequently contribute news, analysis and stories from the locker room to the Blue Note Insider blog. Check back often for exclusive behind the scenes access to the Blues and be sure to follow him on Twitter at @pinkertBLUES

Blues Aim to End Blackhawks' Historic Streak

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 12:02 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blue Note Insider
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Blues Aim to End Blackhawks\' Historic Streak

The Blues will face a stiff challenge when they host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center.

The Blackhawks have yet to lose a game in regulation, going 16-0-3 and setting a new record for the best start to a season in NHL history. The record was previously held by the Anaheim Ducks, who opened the 2006-07 season with points in 16 consecutive games.

Chicago is coming off a seven-game homestand and is playing its first road game since Feb. 10. Each of the Blackhawks’ last five wins (Los Angeles, Vancouver, San Jose, Columbus and Edmonton) have been decided by one goal.

How can the Blues break the streak?

“Sixty (minutes),” Hitchcock said. “Play 40, you’re dead. You’ve got to play 60 the right way and see where it goes. That’s the reason they’re winning…they play more minutes than other teams. They just play more minutes than any other team in the West right now.”

Added Matt D’Agostini, “We’re not thinking too much about their streak. We know they’re a beatable team, we’ve beat them before. So we’ll come out and play our A-game and we’ll get on them quick.”

If the Blues are to end the Blackhawks’ historic run, they will have to do it without Andy McDonald, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko. McDonald (knee) and Steen (upper body) were injured in Tuesday’s practice, while Tarasenko is still sidelined after suffering a concussion on Feb. 20 in Colorado.

“All you’ve got to do is [watch] the NHL Network every hour and there’s another injury that pops up. We’ve been lucky so far,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve got three or four quality forwards out, but everybody’s got that going.

“We’ll get through this fine.”

Steen skated today but Hitchcock said he wouldn’t risk playing him at less than 100 percent with the team’s busy upcoming schedule. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow morning,” Hitchcock said.


RECENT RECALLS

The Blues have recently called up Andrew Murray, Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell from Peoria.

Murray, who joined the organization in July, played under Hitchcock in Columbus.

“He’s a good NHL player. He hunts, he’s heavy on the puck, he’s strong as heck on the boards,” Hitchcock said. “He’s an NHL player that’s played in the minors, but he can play, he can contribute. He’s a very dependable, strong, big-body guy that really hunts the puck.”

Regarding Porter, Hitchcock said he is hungry and has been “a cut above” other players in the American Hockey League. In Peoria this season, Porter has played in 12 games, registering 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists).

Cracknell has played in 43 games in Peoria this season, recording 13 goals and 14 assists (27 points).

Because of injuries, the Blues will have a slightly different look to their forward lines tonight.

“We’re a little bit of a different team,” Hitchcock said, “but we don’t look like we’re going to be easy to play against with this group right now.”


‘NOTEWORTHY

  • The Blues have won five of their last seven games vs. Chicago at home dating back to March 30, 2010.
  • Jaroslav Halak is 3-0-0 at home vs. the ‘Hawks and sports a 1.00 goals-against average, a .959 save-percentage and one shutout.
  • T.J. Oshie has 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in his last 16 games against the Blackhawks.
  • Patrik Berglund has 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in his last 12 games against Chicago.
  • At home, the Blues are 70-48-20 all-time vs. Chicago.
  • Last season, the Blues played 21 games without McDonald and Steen in the lineup and went 13-4-4. While they will certainly need both players to make long playoff run, the Blues have proven recently they can still have success when key players are out of the lineup. Thanks to Blues Season Ticket Holder Nick Hand for this great stat.
  • Halak will start in goal for the Blues tonight.


CEREMONIAL PUCK DROP

The Blues will honor Barret Jackman prior to tonight’s game with a ceremonial puck drop. Fans will want to be in their seats early tonight as the puck drop will feature several special guests.

Jackman played in his 616th game on Saturday, becoming the Blues’ all-time leader in games played by a defenseman. Jackman ranks fifth overall for the Blues, trailing only Bernie Federko(927), Brian Sutter (779), Brett Hull (744) and Garry Unger (662).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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