Blackhawks-Blues Preview

Frustrations are starting to grow for St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who hasn’t been pleased with his team’s recent efforts.

His tune isn’t likely to change with the Chicago Blackhawks coming to town Saturday night for a rematch of last season’s playoff series between these Central Division rivals.

St. Louis (2-3-1) is coming off a pair of ugly defeats, 3-0 at Anaheim on Sunday and 4-1 to Vancouver on Thursday. Kevin Shattenkirk scored with 12:22 left in the second period after the Canucks were called for too many men on the ice, the Blues’ lone power-play goal in seven chances after going 4 for 4 in a 6-1 win at Arizona last Saturday.

"We’re not playing the right way," Hitchcock told the league’s official website. "We’ve made a heck of a run here playing the right way; no odd-man rushes, no forced offense, don’t give the puck away and make hope-for plays offensively.

"(But) we want to play a different game right now, so until we buy into that, we’re going to have some rough water we’re going to have to go through, and that’s what we’re in right now. We’re in rough water."

Jaden Schwartz has a team-leading seven points and Shattenkirk has six, but T.J. Oshie is still seeking his first after posting career highs of 21 goals and 39 assists last season.

"We’ve been having a lot of meetings, and now it’s enough time for talk and just getting to it and doing it," Shattenkirk said. "It’s a matter of taking actions now and going out there and setting examples, especially as leaders.

"We’re not doing it, and unfortunately we have to realize when our top guys are having an off night, which is going to happen, we all have to stand by them and other guys have to step up. That’s something that we need to work on and get better at."

The Blues figure to be up for this matchup after the Blackhawks sent them home in the first round in April. St. Louis took the first two games before losing the next four, dropping to 2-6-0 in the last eight overall meetings.

Corey Crawford has started each of those contests for Chicago while posting a 1.76 goals-against average and two shutouts. However, he won’t be available Saturday due to an upper-body injury that’s kept him out the last two games.

Antti Raanta made 32 saves in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Philadelphia in his season debut, then stopped 24 shots in Thursday’s 3-2 loss at Nashville – Chicago’s first in regulation.

Andrew Shaw cut the deficit to one midway through the third period as the Blackhawks (4-1-1) outshot the Predators 17-6 over the final 20 minutes.

"It was our best (period) by a mile," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You get down by two and you put yourself in a tough spot."

Brian Elliot, who is 1-2-1 despite a 1.73 GAA, is expected back in goal for the Blues after getting Thursday off. He is 4-5-1 with a 2.29 GAA against Chicago.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has 35 points in his last 30 games against the Blues, including playoffs. Oshie has been limited to six points over a 17-game stretch in the series.