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Blues, Blackhawks ready to meet again

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - Wednesday night rivalry. Does it get any better than this?

The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks meet tonight at 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, KMOX 1120 AM) for the first time since the Blues earned a season-opening 5-2 victory at United Center on Oct. 12.

"That was some time ago," said Blues forward Scottie Upshall. "Both teams have started to mature as the season has been unfolding. (The Blackhawks) and Rangers are probably the two hottest teams in the League. They're really offensive, their goaltending has been great… we know what to expect. Both teams know each other really well and both teams have a real good feud and rivalry."

The Blues and Blackhawks sit three points apart in the Central Division standings, with Chicago posting a 9-3-1 record (19 points) through 13 games. The Blues, meanwhile, are 7-4-2 with 16 points.

While the Blues have an opportunity to cut into Chicago's lead, they know it won't be easy. The Blackhawks have the League's longest-active winning streak at six games and have scored at least three goals in each of those wins.

Video: Blues on rivalry with Blackhawks

"These games are somewhat unpredictable," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "Both teams right now are on a high and finding a way after adding some new pieces in the offseason. It's going to be fun. Both teams are on their A-game right now."

Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock says the rivalry between the Blues and Blackhawks is real now that his club emerged with a win in last season's first-round playoff series.

"It doesn't become a rivalry until both sides win," he said. "You can talk like its a rivalry, but we had to earn it. We took a step last year. Hopefully we got their attention a little bit.

"Both teams are built different," Hitchcock added on tonight's matchup. "Whichever team seems to dictate not only controls the hockey game but wins the hockey game. We have a different way to play than they do. We're built different. And when they're on top of their game like they are now, they're very effective."

A NEW TRADITION

The Blues are starting a new Veterans Game tradition tonight, asking fans of both the Blues and Blackhawks to stand together and sing the national anthem to say thank you to our nation's veterans.

Retired Naval Petty Officer, 1st Class, Generald Wilson will step aside to let the fans lead the anthem, showing everyone that regardless of our differences or the teams we root for, we are proud to be Americans and thankful to those that have worked - and fought - to keep our country safe.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The Blues unveiled their Winter Classic jerseys for the Jan. 2 game against the Blackhawks at Busch Stadium. The jersey pays tribute to the team's original 1967-68 jersey, and here's what Hitchcock had to say about them:

"The most iconic picture for me of the St. Louis Blues is the picture with Jacques Plante in that same color sweater. I've said that to (Blues Chairman) Tom (Stillman) and (Blues President and CEO) Chris Zimmerman. I love that color sweater. I think it's terrific and it's going to go right off the shelf to be honest with you. It's a great color, great combination. It's really a classic style, a color I remember from the Blues when they were there in the 60's. It's a really neat uniform."

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