“Easy Like Sunday Morning” played through the United Center as we settled in for some pregame work.
It’s a great song but probably a bit misleading. Because considering the Blackhawks’ opponent, there will be nothing easy about this Sunday morning.
The Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues, who are sitting atop the Western Conference but are probably feeling snarly after their lopsided loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon. Oh, good, an angry Blues team; that ought to make for a snarky, but nowhere near easy, Sunday morning. Brian Elliott will start for the Blues, who will be without Alex Steen.
So while we sip our coffee and scarf down our version of brunch, let’s look at the Five Things to watch for in today’s Blues-Blackhawks game.
1. Rinse and repeat. The Blackhawks have been forced to play a more grinding, simple and (sometimes) ugly game after losing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Hey, who cares: It’s worked the last two games, when the Blackhawks have eked out close but much-needed victories. The Blackhawks need to repeat that here against St. Louis.
2. Get ready for some hard knocks. The Blackhawks are no strangers to the physical Blues game, and there’s no doubt they’ll be seeing it again today. The Blues and Avs had their share of angst play out on Saturday afternoon, and as we said above, we’re sure the Blues are still seething and looking to take out frustration today. Be ready, Blackhawks.
3. Keep that third line going. The Blackhawks might have finally — finally! — found a good mix for their third line. Bryan Bickell, Peter Regin and Jeremy Morin have been a good, feisty, scrappy, net-driving combination the past two games, and there’s some chemistry there. Bickell will likely be engaged physically today, but that line as a whole could be on to something overall.
4. Stay stoic, Mr. Crawford. Corey Crawford has played well for the most part, but he’s still allowing too many of those bad goals. He admitted Minnesota’s game-tying goal late on Thursday was a tough one, but he rebounded in the shootout that night. As we’ve stated before, with so many teammates weary, especially the Olympians, Crawford has to buckle down a little more right now.
5. Our pick to click today is Jeremy Morin. As we wrote on Saturday, Morin has been making the most of this opportunity. He’s been sticking up for teammates, been driving to the net and has provided much-needed energy for the Blackhawks. We think he factors in today’s outcome, too.