Wednesday, April 23, 2014
W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Blues (Game 4)
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues face off for Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series at the United Center on Wednesday. The Blues lead the series 2-1. Here's what to watch for:
Blues forward David Backes is questionable for the game. After the morning skate, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't reveal whether Backes will play. Backes was hurt by a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2. Seabrook will be out Wednesday as he serves the second game of his three-game suspension.
Hitchcock announced forward Brenden Morrow will miss the remainder of the series due to a lower-body injury. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith did not participate in the team's morning skate, but coach Joel Quenneville said he will be fine for the game.
The Blues believe they played their best game of the series in Game 3 despite losing 2-0 at the United Center. The Blues had 70 total shot attempts to the Blackhawks' 49. Hitchcock said, "I thought we were 80 percent in, and if we're going to beat them [Wednesday,] we're going to have to have a stronger commitment in our game."
A power-play goal could be the difference for either team. Both teams have struggled on the power play and excelled on the penalty kill. The Blues are 1-for-16 on the power play, and the Blackhawks are 1-for-14. The Blackhawks' power-play goal came on their first chance in the series. The Blues scored theirs to tie the game in the final seconds of the third period in Game 2. Both teams have obviously been pleased with their penalty kill units.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is coming off his best game of the series. After allowing four goals in each of the first two games, Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced in Game 3. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller wasn't far behind Crawford in Game 3. Aside from allowing a soft goal to Jonathan Toews, Miller was solid as well.
Quenneville reunited forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on a line in Game 3. Quenneville often prefers to keep them apart to create more balance in the lineup. Kane and Toews have two of the Blackhawks' three forward goals in the series. Hitchcock joked on Tuesday, "I don't think he's fighting very fair frankly. I don't like that. But we'll find a way to figure it out."
Game 3 was tamer than the first two games. The Blackhawks and Blues combined for seven penalties, which was the lowest amount in the series. They combined for 10 in Game 1 and 17 in Game 2. Both teams are less likely to get involved in extracurriculars after the whistle as the series goes on.