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Daily Primer March 19: Central Division showdown

Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

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Daily Primer March 19: Central Division showdown
The Chicago Blackhawks will try to gain ground on the St. Louis Blues when they host the Central Division leaders Wednesday night.

The St. Louis Blues are attempting to nail down the Central Division crown, the Presidents' Trophy -- and, ultimately, their first Stanley Cup. The Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to gain ground on the NHL standings leaders Wednesday night.

St. Louis, which has an eight-point lead atop the Central, will seek its fourth straight win when it faces the Blackhawks at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champion, managed to get a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

"We know how good they [the Blues] are as a team, they're playing well," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It comes down to how prepared we are and how bad we want it. That's what it's all about."

Here's a closer look at the action Wednesday:

Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs -- Tampa Bay has won three in a row and brings a five-game point streak to Air Canada Centre. The Lightning, who kept things rolling with a 4-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, begin a three-game road trip against the team that sits one point behind them for third place in the Atlantic Division. Toronto came up empty Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. The Maple Leafs return home after going 2-3-0 on their five-game road trip.

St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks -- Two of the League's best clash at United Center, where the Blackhawks will try to close the eight-point gap that separates them from the Blues in the Central Division standings and move into second place ahead of the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues are coming off a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday and have won all three games against the Blackhawks this season, two of them in shootouts.

Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets -- Each team will be playing its third game in as many cities in four nights. Colorado lost 6-3 to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday in Patrick Roy's first game as an NHL coach in the city where he started his playing career. Winnipeg closes its busy stretch against another of the NHL's top teams. The Jets lost 3-1 at St. Louis on Monday after routing the Dallas Stars 7-2 at home 24 hours earlier.

Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks -- Both teams are seeing their hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs fade away. Nashville opened a four-game road trip in disappointing fashion Tuesday by losing 5-1 to the Edmonton Oilers. Goalie Pekka Rinne allowed five goals on 26 shots before being pulled. Vancouver has 11 games remaining on its schedule and trails the Phoenix Coyotes by five points for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Canucks return to Rogers Arena for the first time in nine days after going 2-2-0 on a four-game road trip.

Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players