It is getting to the point in the season where almost every game is a must-win for the St. Louis Blues. They are in a fight for one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference and they can’t afford to be losing games against teams like the Chicago Blackhawks who are going to miss the playoffs. It won’t be easy, as this game on Sunday on NBCSN is a big rivalry contest, and it will be a spotlight game on national television. Let’s look at this contest and NHL picks.
At 7:30 p.m. ET, tune into NBCSN for live television coverage of this NHL game on Sunday, March 18, 2018, at the United Center.
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The Blues are in a position where they can’t afford to give up many more points if they expect to make the playoffs. If you assume that the Blues won’t catch Minnesota for third in the Central, it is all about getting one of the two Wild Card playoff spots for St. Louis. They have to beat out Dallas and Colorado in their own division and then also deal with the two teams in the Pacific that don’t get into the top three. Just four points separate six teams, so every game is crucial down the stretch. “It obviously goes to show how much one win can do for you each night, and how much you gotta focus and prepare each night,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said recently to the media.
St. Louis head coach Mike Yeo said recently to the media that he knows what is coming up. “I think there’s an understanding that we still have a long road ahead of us,” Yeo said. “Not only are we chasing a lot of teams here, but we’re chasing a lot of really good teams.” The Blues have three games left against Chicago, so the Blackhawks may decide whether or not St. Louis makes the playoffs. This is a 3-in-4 situation for St. Louis and playing with no rest, as they were home against New York on Saturday. The Blues are 17-18 on the road this season, with 15 games going over and 20 going under. They are scoring 2.7 goals per game and giving up 2.6 per contest.
The Blackhawks will be playing their third game in four days and with no rest, as they were in Buffalo on Saturday. The Blackhawks are just 17-18 at home this season, with 10 games going over, 24 going under, with one push. They are scoring 2.8 goals per game but giving up 2.9 per contest.
Chicago has simply not found an answer this season since goaltender Corey Crawford went down with injury. Crawford covered up a lot of deficiencies for Chicago and without him the Blackhawks have struggled. They will miss the playoffs for the first time in ten seasons. “He’s been arguably our key player all year, and the consistency he’s given us in the net, we know how valuable the position is and what it means to your team,” Quenneville said recently to the media. “It’s almost like, ‘OK, that’s a tremendous hole.’ ”
St. Louis is pathetic on the power play at just 15%, 30th in the NHL. They are 13th in penalty killing at just over 81%. The Blackhawks are not much better, as they rank 28th on the power play and they are 15th in penalty killing.
These teams have split their last ten meetings, with three of the last four going over the total. St. Louis has actually won four of the last six in Chicago, with the last four going over.
Free NHL Picks
The Blues have won six of their last ten playing with no rest, while the Blackhawks have lost 7 of their last 10 playing with no rest. The travel also favors the Blues in this matchup and it is a must-win game for St. Louis. I will take the Blues on Sunday night.
NHL Odds: Blues 3, Blackhawks 2
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