Two teams going in opposite directions will meet when the St. Louis Blues visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.
St. Louis has won three games in a row and has at least one point in six of its past seven contests. The Blues are coming off a resounding 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, which marked the sixth time this season they have scored five-plus goals.
Meanwhile, Chicago is sliding with a 1-4-1 record in its past six games. The Blackhawks have dropped back-to-back games to Colorado, including a 7-3 shellacking their last time out in Denver on Saturday.
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton has tried mixing up his scoring lines in an effort to reignite the offense, but he said it was difficult to gauge the effectiveness of those changes because of the team’s poor effort. That is something he wants to see change on Monday against St. Louis.
“Ultimately, we didn’t have much of a chance to evaluate those lines because the base of our game — the habits we were playing with — were nowhere near where we need to be,” Colliton told reporters. “We’re never going to be perfect. Not every shift is going to be perfect. But the intentions have to be perfect, and I don’t think we can say that.”
The Blackhawks’ schedule does not get any easier as the defending Stanley Cup champions come into town.
The Blues have shown no signs of a championship hangover. They have only five regulation-time losses in 28 games, and they are feeling good after Justin Faulk and Nathan Walker scored their first goals as members of the Blues in their most recent game.
St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo will be eligible to return from a four-game suspension on Monday. Bortuzzo drew the suspension for cross-checking Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson on Nov. 23. Arvidsson was injured on the play and could miss several weeks.
“You never want to see anyone get hurt,” Bortuzzo told reporters. “That’s never my intention.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis will remain without injured forwards Alexander Steen (ankle) and Oskar Sundqvist (foot). Both players are progressing, said coach Craig Berube, who added that Sundqvist’s outlook is “better than we thought,” and he could be back sooner rather than later.
Chicago will wait to see whether veteran defenseman Duncan Keith (groin) is doing any better after sitting out Saturday’s game. Keith is the team’s top blue-liner, and his absence was noticeable as Colorado piled up seven goals.
The Blues likely will start Jordan Binnington (13-4-4, 2.26 goals-against average) in net. He boasts a .926 save percentage on the season.
Chicago could turn back to Robin Lehner (5-5-3, 2.69 GAA) after he was yanked from his last start. He has a .929 save percentage.
Alternatively, Colliton could start longtime netminder Corey Crawford (5-6-2, 2.97 GAA), who fared better after replacing Lehner two nights ago. Crawford has a .912 save percentage and has the lone shutout of the season for the Blackhawks.
This is the first of four meetings between the teams during the regular season.
–Field Level Media