Bryan Bickell and the Chicago Blackhawks will face a physical road test Thursday night despite the St. Louis Blues being down a few players.
The Chicago Blackhawks have won their last six games at home and have lengthened their consecutive points streak to open the 2013 season to 19 games. Thursday night presents a tough road test right down I-55 when Chicago travels to take on the St. Louis Blues.
The Blackhawks will send Corey Crawford out to man the crease Thursday. Crawford is coming off of a shutout of Columbus Sunday evening.
St. Louis beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 on Saturday to break a two-game losing skid and hasn't played since.
Dave Bolland is out again for the 'Hawks, but St. Louis is likely to be even more shorthanded entering action at the Scottrade Center.
Bolland is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, as is Alex Steen of the Blues. Steen may take part Thursday, but "The Rat" has been ruled out for the contest.
If Steen can't go, then St. Louis loses their top scorer.
Andy McDonald, who collided with Steen recently in practice, has been put on injured reserve with an injured left knee. Also on the IR is Vladimir Tarasenko, who is experiencing concussion symptoms following a hit last Wednesday in Colorado.
When Jaroslav Halak has been healthy, he has been very good. In seven games, he is 4-0-3 with a 1.69 goals against average. It looks like he will oppose Crawford in goal for the Blues.
Last year in four appearances against the 'Hawks, Halak was even better, posting a 1.68 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. Crawford was 3-1 a season ago versus the Blues and also put up good numbers (1.83 goals against, .923 save percentage), so it could come be a low scoring affair.
The 'Hawks held of a third-period St. Louis rally to claim the first meeting of the teams back in January by a score of 3-2.
With a bull's eye on their backs and a physical Blues team in front of them, Chicago is going to find this a true road test.