St. Louis Blues Look to Maintain First-Place Standing Against Chicago Blackhawks


The St. Louis Blues will look to hold a firm grip on their first place position on Thursday night when they face their fiercest division rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, for the final time this season. A loss against Chicago wouldn’t be enough to allow the third-place Blackhawks, who have 102 points, to pass the Blues on Thursday, but it could allow the second-place Nashville Predators, who have 104 points, to jump back into first if they defeat the Minnesota Wild. With the Blues currently possessing 105 points, a Blues overtime loss and a Predators win or a Blues regulation loss and a Predators overtime loss would create a first-place tie, while a Blues regulation loss and a Predators win would give Nashville outright possession of first place.

More from St. Louis Blues

With just two games left for the top three teams in the Central Division, the next few days will provide some intense competition. If the Blues lose out and the Blackhawks collect points in both of their remaining two games, the Blues could drop into third place and be forced to begin the postseason on the road. Conversely, a first-place finish in the Central (second place in the conference behind Anaheim) would allow the Blues to start off at home against a wild card team. With that said, the team they’re currently projected to start off against is the Minnesota Wild, who are 2-0-1 in the season series, so the Blues may be better off seeding-wise if they finish in second or third place.

Jake Allen will remain the Blues’ starter in goal on Thursday night and looks to have the edge as the team’s playoff goalie, assuming that he delivers worthwhile performances over his final regular season appearances. The 24-year-old rookie is 10-2-2 since January 1, and he has allowed two or fewer goals in his last seven starts.

More from Arch Authority

With forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo out for Thursday’s game with injuries, the drama over the lineup against Chicago will be rather minimal. Chris Porter doesn’t really match up well with Chicago’s finesse, east-west focused lineup, so Olli Jokinen will likely remain in the lineup against the Blackhawks. Jokinen had his best game since joining the Blues on Sunday against Chicago, scoring his first goal in a Bluenote.

Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will stick in the lineup again on Thursday, playing in consecutive games for the first time since March 28 and 30. His presence will leave Chris Butler as the only healthy scratch among the defensemen against Chicago.

Next: This Day in St. Louis Sports History: April 7