The Chicago Blackhawks have blossomed into one of the best teams in the Western Conference this season, but still have yet to beat one of the worst.
The Blackhawks look to bounce back from a rare home loss while trying for their first victory of the season over the lowly St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at Scottrade Center.
After missing the playoffs for five straight seasons, Chicago (24-10-8) is fourth in the West with things looking positive to end that drought.
St. Louis (17-23-3), meanwhile, has a conference-low 37 points and is in danger of missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. The Blues current state, however, hasn’t prevented them from winning both games this season 4-3 over the Blackhawks, including the most recent in overtime at Chicago on Nov. 14 and in a shootout on Oct. 18 at home.
Though the Blues rank near the bottom of the NHL allowing their opponents to convert 19.6 percent of their power plays, they’ve held Chicago to one goal on nine chances with the man-advantage.
Chicago needs to improve in that area after going 1-for-11 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Friday for its first loss at the United Center in nine games. Though they are converting 21.5 percent of their power-play opportunities, the Blackhawks are 3-for-30 in those situations over their last six contests.
“We’ve got to be better,” Chicago coach and former Blues boss Joel Quenneville told the Blackhawks’ official Web site after his team failed to convert on four of five 5-on-3 situations Friday. “We’re going to be smarter, too.”
Cristobal Huet, though, could get the start as the team continues to alternate goaltenders and tries to avoid a third straight road loss. Huet is 11-7-3 with a 2.38 goals-against average on the season and 0-2-0 with a 2.43 GAA versus the Blues, but hasn’t faced them since March 16, 2004 with Los Angeles.
This contest features two of the NHL’s top rookies in Chicago’s Chris Versteeg and St. Louis’ Patrick Berglund.
Versteeg, who has 13 goals, has recorded three assists in his last two games and two versus the Blues this season. Berglund, meanwhile, scored his 14th to take the lead among NHL rookies in the Blues’ 5-2 win over Colorado on Thursday.
Cam Janssen, a St. Louis-area native, scored his first goal of the season Thursday as the Blues won for the third time in five games and second straight at home.
“Growing up watching the Blues and seeing everybody score goals and how exciting it was to score goals, to get my first one at home is unbelievable,” Janssen said.
Manny Legace made 24 saves against the Avalanche to improve to 13-9-1 with a 3.16 GAA. He was in goal for both meetings against Chicago this season and is 12-9-0 with a 2.32 GAA versus the Blackhawks.
St. Louis center Keith Tkachuk is expected to play after missing Thursday’s game while recovering from an apparent head injury suffered in Tuesday’s loss at Calgary.