By Greg Dempson
The puck drops at 9:30 ET this evening at the Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri as the Blues attempt to avoid an early exit in the first round of the playoffs as the Blued have been eliminated in the first round each of the previous three seasons. In their quest to advance to the second round the Blues face an all too familiar opponent in Chicago.
The two teams met five times during the regular season with the Blues winning three of those five games, the most recent in overtime, (2–1,) at Chicago on April 7th as Brian Elliot stopped 24 shots. The Blues also won at the United Center, (6–5,) on November 4th while losing at Chicago, (2–0,) on January 24th. The two teams split in St. Louis with the Blues winning 3–2 on March 9th while losing, (4–2,) on November 14th. There were 2 overs, 2 unders and one push in those five games.
Each team closed out the season strong with the Blues finishing on a 14–3 clip while Chicago went 5–1–2 in their last eight contests. Of the three games tonight, this line is the most competitive, (early Chicago money has moved the money line down slightly,) as St. Louis opened at –125 and they’re presently –117. The Lightning are –152 while the Penguins are listed at –140 with all three totals pegged at 5 goals.
· The BlackHawks killed off 29 out of 31 penalties in their final 11 games but can they stop the Blues’ power play? St. Louis was able to score 4 power play goals in their five game series vs. Chicago this season.
· Duncan Keith is a scratch tonight as he serves the final game of his suspension.
· The Blues are 7–3 in their last 10 meetings in St. Louis and they won the last two games this season against Chicago, (at home and on the road.)
· The past three seasons Chicago is -32.0-units when playing against excellent power play teams that score on more than 17.5% of their chances.
· St. Louis is 24–8 when off a home loss the past two seasons.
· The Blues will have to limit the scoring opportunities of Art Ross Trophy winner, Patrick Kane to have success in the series while the Hawks will have to be wary of Vladimir Tarasenko. He closed the season with 8 points including 6 goals. Tarasenko also scored 4 goals vs. Chicago in their 2014 playoff series as well as 6 of the teams 14 vs. the Wild in last spring’s post season.
· Play against teams that allowed 5 or more goals when playing against an opponent that scored 2 goals or less in two straight games. This system is 196 – 145 and +39.60-units the past five seasons.
My Every Edge offering for this evening is on the St. Louis Blues at –117 on the money line when I made the play.
For additional free selections plus a super system on the RedWings/Lightning game visit my web site, www.gregdempson.com.