Chicago Blackhawks - St. Louis Blues Western Conference Preview: Blackhawks looking for continued domination

There couldn't be two more closely matched teams playing against each other in this year's Western Conference playoffs.  On April 13, 2016 at 9:30pm Eastern time the two Central Division foes will battle it out in the first round to see who advances. The St. Louis Blues collecting 107 points during the regular campaign will have the home ice advantage, but when you're up against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks home ice seems non-existent. The Chicago Blackhawks are becoming a near dynasty

Regular Season Head-to-Head

The two teams played five regular season games against each other, with the Blackhawks winning two, and two going to the Blues in overtime, and one going to them in a shoot-out. Still, the Blackhawks gained seven points out of a possible 10. 

Playoffs Head-to-Head

Back in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Blackhawks defeated the Blues four games to two in their first round meeting. 

The only success the Blues have had against the Blackhawks was way back in the 2001-02 season when they defeated the Windy City boys four games to one in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals.

The Blues have been just plain awful in the playoffs in recent memory. In fact, they have not won a playoff series since they beat the San Jose Sharks four games to one in the 2011-12 playoffs.

Key Players

No doubt this will be a war between the Blues star player Vladimir Tarasenko (40g/34a, 12 PPG, seven game winners) and the Art Ross Trophy winner Chicago's Patrick Kane (46g/60a, 17 PPG, nine game winners).

Kane has been nothing short of phenomenal, and Tarasenko is becoming a NHL superstar in his own right. 

The match-up will be great to watch, and even more entertaining considering the pressure put on the Blues to finally advance in a playoff series after another successful regular season.

Line Combos

The Blackhawks have a scoring machine line in Artem Anisimov, Artemi Panarin, and Patrick Kane contributing 225 points. Panarin is a shoe-in for rookie of the year. This line is also their number one power play unit. 

Good luck defending against this line. 

The Blues' line of Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz could only muster up 130 points.

Goalies

Corey Crawford has been banged up, but will play in the playoffs. Backup Scott Darling performed well going 6-3-2 in Crawford's absence.

Getty Images Sport Bruce Bennett
Brian Elliott making a stop. | Getty Images Sport: Bruce Bennett

The Blues have one exceptional goalie themselves in Brian Elliott. His 38-23-8 record speaks for itself. He also has an outstanding .930 save percentage, and a 2.07 goals against average. He may need to maintain those statistics to give his team a chance against the mighty Blackhawks offense.

Series Prediction

It certainly is tough to vote against the Chicago Blackhawks with all of their recent Cups, and the tradition they bring to the NHL. With that said, the Blues have a challenge, and if you go by recent performance results they have not met that challenge. Perhaps this could be the year they rid themselves of the playoff failures they've shown in the past.

And then again, maybe not. 

Chicago Blackhawks in 7.

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