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At the Rink: Blues at Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Marko Dano didn't fully grasp how big the rivalry was between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues until he saw a television ad promoting the game they'll play at United Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

Dano, a 20-year old Blackhawks forward, noticed it while watching the Blues' 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Scottrade Center on Tuesday.

"I just saw the commercial [Tuesday] night," Dano said after Chicago's morning skate. "I didn't even realize it's like a big thing in here. So, now I know and I've got to be ready."

Dano is not the only Blackhawks player who's new to the rivalry. Chicago will have six players facing St. Louis for the first time in the regular season. Three veterans will play the Blues for the first time wearing a Blackhawks uniform, other than preseason games.

"They're always special games," said center Marcus Kruger, who has played for the Blackhawks in 19 regular-season games against the Blues. "I think that's probably our biggest rivalry. They play fast-paced and they've got a lot of size, as well, so it's always a tough game against them. They're big games in the [Central Division]."

Kruger and the Blackhawks' other core players will give their new teammates a crash course on what it's like playing the Blues. Coach Joel Quenneville will too.

Quenneville has experience on both sides of the rivalry as a coach, and knows how physically taxing it can be for players on both benches.

"You experience it right off the bat," Quenneville said. "Against St. Louis, [their] team plays heavy and they play the right way. They're positionally sound and the importance of every shift … that's where the test comes in."

The Blues might have more of a physical test this time. They're playing the second game of a back-to-back set, and their flight from St. Louis to Chicago after their game Tuesday was diverted to Milwaukee because of fog. They boarded buses in Milwaukee and arrived in Chicago a couple hours before sunrise.

The Blues didn't hold a full morning skate. Their optional skate was attended by injured defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body), forward Martin Havlat and forward Dainius Zubrus. None of them will play.

Havlat and Zubrus are with St. Louis on professional tryout offers that expire Friday, while Shattenkirk will miss his 10th straight game, according to the Blues. St. Louis recalled forward Magnus Paajarvi from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks will play their seventh game without defenseman Duncan Keith, who's recovering from surgery Oct. 20 to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee. They will play their second game without right wing Marian Hossa (lower body).

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks. Brian Elliott, who hasn't played since Oct. 24, will start for the Blues.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Scottie Upshall - David Backes - Troy Brouwer

Magnus Paajarvi - Dmitrij Jaskin - Robby Fabbri

Steve Ott - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: Paul Stastny (foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body), Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder)

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Chris Butler, Ty Rattie


Artemi Panarin - Jonathan Toews - Ryan Garbutt

Teuvo Teravainen - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Marko Dano - Tanner Kero - Ryan Hartman

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw

Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor Daley - Erik Gustafsson

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: Duncan Keith (knee), Marian Hossa (lower body), Michal Rozsival (left ankle)

Scratched: Viktor Tikhonov, David Rundblad

Status report: Quenneville said he isn't too concerned about Hossa's injury; there is a chance the veteran forward will miss another game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday. … The Blues didn't hold a morning press conference, so it's unclear whose place Paajarvi will take in the lineup. The most likely spot is at left wing on the third line, with either Fabbri or Rattie coming out.

Who's hot: Toews has five goals in the past five games for Chicago, while Anisimov has five goals on 17 shots for a shooting percentage of 29.4 percent. … Elliott is 4-0-0 against Western Conference opponents with a 2.01 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

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