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NHL Game Preview for Saturday December 3, 2011: Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues

Written by Gaby Varji   
Thursday, 01 December 2011 07:06

Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues LinesOnline Betting Overview
St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock had been away from the NHL for a little while before taking the St. Louis job 10 games ago. In that time, he lost some weight and sharpened his coaching skills. The Blues are 7-1-2 in the last 10 games including a four-game winning streak. Whatever Hitchcock worked on in his time off, it took immediate effect on his new team. The Blues skate harder and play to the whistle now. There is enthusiasm in St. Louis and that is a problem for other Western Conference teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues have begun a steady climb up the standings since Hitchcock arrived and are trying to muscle in on Chicago’s spot at the top of the Central Division.

The price per head fans in Chicago have to be pleased with the way that the Blackhawks have performed this season. Last season, it looked like the Blackhawks were the victims of the Stanley Cup hangover.

But the truth is that the Blackhawks had to gut its Stanley Cup winning team to stay under the NHL salary cap. The team that was left behind had to learn how to work together, and that takes time. This year, the bookie software has the Blackhawks at the top of the Western Conference and playing very well. New starting goaltender Corey Crawford looks like he was destined for his starting role, and leaders like Patrick Kane have finally gotten the team playing well. Now comes the test of the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis Blues
Prior to Hitchcock’s arrival, the Blues were not a bad team. But they were underperforming. A bodog review of the Blues’ home record shows that the Blues have always been able to play on its own ice. The Blues are 8-2-1 this year at home, and they are one of the best home teams in the NHL. It looks like the Blues have found their starting goalie in Brian Elliott as Elliott has gone 5-0-0 in his last five starts. Hitchcock still bounces back and forth between Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, but in games like this important game against the Blackhawks, expect to see Elliott between the pipes.

Chicago Blackhawks
There really is nothing flashy about the Chicago Blackhawks. The team plays solid hockey and, aside from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, there are not a lot of big name superstars on the team. What Chicago has been doing is building a solid season on great goaltending and a powerful team offense. Unfortunately, the defense has been lacking this season and that will cost Chicago at some point.

The Bottom Line
NHL fans in St. Louis are excited to see Ken Hitchcock take over the Blues and get the team winning again. The scary part about St. Louis is that no one really knows how good the team can really be. It looks like we will find out in this game.

Hockey Betting Free Pick: St. Louis Blues

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