[8:07 PM] Blues @ Blackhawks

Who will WIN this matchup?

St. Louis Blues

@ Chicago Blackhawks


Starting Goalies:

Jake Allen (STL): Confirmed

Corey Crawford (CHI): Confirmed


Current odds:

St. Louis Blues: (+105)

Chicago Blackhawks: (-125)


The St. Louis Blues finally ended their postseason woes in 2015-16, advancing past the first round of the playoffs for the second time since 2001 in reaching the Western Conference finals. St. Louis vanquished a nemesis and a bitter rival in the opening round with a terse seven-game victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, who will host the Blues on Wednesday night in the season opener.

The No. 1 reason for optimism for St. Louis is the presence superstar forward Vladimir Tarasenko, whose goal total has increased from 21 to 37 to a career-best 40 over the past three seasons. The Blues must replace 39 goals with the departures of Backes and Troy Brouwer, but Alexander Steen is back and more offense should come come from Robby Fabbri, who netted 18 goals as a rookie, and Jaden Schwartz, limited to 33 games by injuries in 2015-16 after amassing a combined 53 goals over the previous two seasons. Netminder Jake Allen showed he can shoulder the load as a No. 1 netminder until a late-season injury and he’ll be surrounded by a strong defensive corps headed by new captain Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk

While Chicago may be forced to rely on a number of rookies, it has plenty of high-end talent on offense in captain Jonathan Toews, Kane, Marian Hossa, last season’s rookie sensation Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. The goaltending is in good hands with Corey Crawford and backup Scott Darling and the blue-line corps is anchored by ironman Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who registered career highs in goals (14) and points (49) last season. The defense lacked depth last season but the signings of veteran Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny will provide stability. The Blackhawks may be forced to count on offense from three rookies — Tyler Motte and former first-round draft picks Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman.

Crawford is 14-4-5 lifetime against St. Louis.

Tarasenko scored 12 power-play goals and added 12 assists on the man advantage last season.

Kane has 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 48 games versus the Blues.


StreakSmarts Pick: Chicago Blackhawks

Confidence: 5/10

StreakSmarter Pick