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NHL Chicago Blackhawks

St. Louis Blues Provide a Unique Test to .500 Chicago Blackhawks

Jimmy Hayes

Rob Grabowski-USA Today Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks dropped a tough game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night, but luckily they have plenty of time to rebound from an uncharacteristic shootout loss against a team that is currently rebuilding.

Rebuilding is something the St. Louis Blues will hopefully not be doing any time soon. Rather, they are embarking on a Central division title, and have built their team to dethrone the Chicago Blackhawks. Led by Captain David Backes, the Blackhawks-Blues rivalry has provided for numerous physical, excellent, hockey games over the last few years.

However, at 2-0, the Blues will be facing a tough and unique challenge Wednesday night. With NLDS Game 5 in St. Louis beginning at 4:07 local time, the secondary ticket market has opened up, meaning despite the Blues hopes of deterring Blackhawks fans, the crowd will likely be split even more than normal.

On the ice, look for the Blues to attempt to be more physical than ever against a Blackhawks offense which has put up significant numbers and an improved power play, despite being 1-0-1. The Blues for their part may also choose a more finesse game plan due to the likely smaller crowd, and the fact that in their last performance they bullied the Florida Panthers 7-0.

For the ‘Hawks, there are a few uncertainties that will have to be cleared up before game time Wednesday night. Both Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes have once again been splitting time on the third line, and with the Blues looking to provide the first physical test of the season, coach Joel Quenneville will likely base his decision on the predicted tempo of the game.

Defensively, Michal Rozsival has been replaced alongside Nick Leddy, and Sheldon Brookbank may make his season debut against the Blues according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. Coach Quenneville has stated he wanted to spread around playing time, and against a chippy St. Louis team hungry to defend its home ice, it seems he will be able to do just that.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486