ST. LOUIS - Just like last spring, the St. Louis Blues have the higher seed but the unenviable task of facing the defending Stanley Cup champion in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Blues to prevail against the Chicago Blackhawks in a matchup of 100-point teams, coach Ken Hitchcock says they'll need standout play from goalie Ryan Miller. St. Louis lost in six games to the Kings and Jonathan Quick last year and acquired Miller in hopes of making a deep run.
Hitchcock anticipates game-time decisions for the opener Thursday night, with a roster hit hard by injuries during a six-game losing streak to end the regular season.
I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.
— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website