Five things to watch as Blackhawks host Blues

Five things to watch as Blackhawks host Blues
March 19, 2014, 6:15 pm
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It’s another day, another chance for the Chicago Blackhawks to find consistency in their game. Oh, and they get to do it against a St. Louis Blues team that’s frustrated them to no end this season.

But this isn’t about the Blues, who are sitting nice atop the Western Conference standings. This is about the Blackhawks and the up-and-down games they’ve had the past few weeks. They had one of those shaky ones again on Tuesday, losing with about five seconds left in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers. Were the Blues on their minds? Probably. But it was another reminder to follow their own mantra: one game at a time.

Well, now that next “one game” is here, and it’s an important one in terms of the Blackhawks finding their way and finding a way to collect more points, pronto.

[MORE: Blackhawks' Crawford gets nod in net against rival Blues]

Which Blackhawks team will show up at the United Center? Will the Blackhawks reverse the trend against the Blues? Will we keep asking questions to which we don’t have immediate answers? While we think about all of that, we look at the Five Things to watch for in tonight’s Blues-Blackhawks game.

1. Get a lead … then hold onto it.

The Blackhawks were up 2-0 on the Flyers and then lost control. They led twice against St. Louis earlier this season and lost both contests. Remember when the Blackhawks used to hold onto a lead with every fiber of their beings? They haven’t been too secure lately, and they need to get back to playing that stalwart, you’re-not-coming-back-against-us game they were so successful at last season.

2. Be smarter.

There’s really no such thing as a good penalty but there are a lot of dumb ones, be it the penalty itself or the time at which it’s taken. The Blackhawks have done this too often lately and it’s put them on draining kills and taken away momentum they had at that point. The Blackhawks need to be smart, they need to stop chasing and they need to stop taking the mind-numbing penalties that drive coaches crazy.

[RELATED: Blues don't want to jump-start Blackhawks' resurgence]

3. Play 60 minutes (or even 65-plus if it’s necessary).

Here’s another one we’ve had to talk about quite a bit lately but it bears repeating. Tuesday night’s game was a perfect example of those 65-minute games, another overtime outing in which the Blackhawks couldn’t come up with the extra point. But the rollercoaster performances through the first three periods have to stop, too.

4. Beware of … well, everyone in a Blues uniform.

We usually like to pick someone who’s trending, on a big scoring streak. But looking at the Blues’ lineup during their current 8-0-1 run and everyone’s been contributing. Kind of sounds like the Blackhawks of last season, doesn’t it?

5. Our pick to click tonight is Jonathan Toews.

He’s been on a roll lately and we see it continuing tonight. Plus the Blackhawks have to win one of these games against the Blues this season. Right?