Toews & Co. rounding into form
On Friday, the Blues showed center Patrik Berglund the money. Will they make Central Division rival Chicago pay the price tonight?
After a hiatus of nearly a week, Mike Yeo’s team returns to the ice at 7:30 p.m. ET. But online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Blackhawks odds of -170 to take care of business at home. St. Louis, on the other hand, enters the United Center as a +140 underdog.
Several major decisions await the Note (31-24-5) as the trade deadline nears. Now, though, the organization can at least feel comfortable about having locked up one of its top forwards for the foreseeable future. General manager Doug Armstrong just signed Berglund to a five-year contract extension worth $19.25 million. The Swiss native ranks second on the squad in goals (17), behind only Vladimir Tarasenko, and his two-way play certainly fits Yeo’s vision.
Berglund figures to perform a key role against Chicago (38-18-5), too, as these clubs meet for the fifth time this season. The Blues claimed the last matchup, a 4-1 verdict in the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. Yet Joel Quenneville’s group seems on the cusp of running away from the competition – again. The Hawks boast victories in eight of their past nine games and trail Western Conference-leading Minnesota by three points.
With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews simply ripping apart opposing defenses right now, St. Louis netminder Jake Allen must prevent matters from spiraling out of control early. Considering his 1.88 GAA and .935 save percentage in February, we’ll trust the former second-round selection here. Look for the Blackhawks to barely eke out a win in a contest brimming with playoff-level intensity.
SUNDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLUES/BLACKHAWKS UNDER 5.5 GOALS