Who has the edge in the Blackhawks-Blues series?

Who has the edge in the Blackhawks-Blues series?

Well, here we are again: the Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues, returning to their rivalry on the playoff stage.

There are no secrets between these two: you know what you get with each team. So how does each part of each team stack up? Glad you asked. As we’ve done in the past, here are our edges in the first-round playoff matchup between the Blackhawks and Blues.


Each team has its steady captain (Jonathan Toews and David Backes). Each team has its explosive forwards (Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko). The Blackhawks’ second line has been a consistent source of offense throughout the season. Kane finished with a career-high 46 goals and Artemi Panarin had 30, the most for a Blackhawks rookie since Eric Daze (1995-96). The top line has had its moments — Toews finished with 28 goals — but the third and fourth lines haven’t brought offense as they have in the past.

For the Blues, Tarasenko led the Blues with 40 goals. Backes, who is expected to be back from a lower-body injury, is next with 21. After that, the Blues have six players with 10 or more goals this season.

The big question is: will the Blackhawks get the more balanced scoring in the postseason that was so hit and miss in the regular season? Playoff history says they will. This is a close one to call, but...

EDGE: Blackhawks.

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The Blackhawks know what they’ve got in their top three defensemen (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson). Finding consistency from 4-6 hasn’t been as easy, and the Blackhawks’ overall defense hasn’t been as strong this season as in the past. Also, the Blackhawks will be without Keith for one more game. The Blues have jumbled up their defensive pairs plenty this season, but that’s been because of injuries, not lack of good play. Despite those injuries, the Blues’ defense has been consistent and strong this season.

EDGE: Blues.


We’re not used to saying this entering the playoffs but: the Blackhawks’ power play is good. We mean ranked-second-in-the-league good (22.6 percent). Kane and Panarin have been great on it this season but as Kane said, when the Blackhawks are moving on the power play, it’s worked well. The Blues, meanwhile, aren’t too shabby on this either. They’re sixth in the league, converting 21.5 percent of the time. Both will be threats to penalty kills.

EDGE: Even.

[SHOP: Gear up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Blackhawks fans!


The Blackhawks’ usual bread and butter was not nearly as strong and consistent this season as it’s been previously. Yes, it’s been much better down the stretch (29 of 31 in the last 11 games) and if that continues the Blackhawks will be in good shape. The Blues’ kill, however, has been great throughout this season, ranked third in the league (85.1 percent). As much as the Blackhawks’ improvement lately is a good sign, the confidence for the Blues in this category has been there all season.

EDGE: Blues.


Corey Crawford is back after missing nearly a month with an upper-body injury. He was hit and miss in the regular-season finale, where getting the timing back was the toughest part. But said he feels great and is ready for the postseason. Brian Elliott will be the Blues’ starter for Game 1. Elliott was great down the stretch and when the Blues recorded four consecutive shutouts in late March, he was in goal for three of them. Will this be the postseason Elliott proves himself? Perhaps. But to this point, the other guy already has.

EDGE: Blackhawks 

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'


Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?