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Behind The Numbers

Blues could expose Blackhawks penalty kill

Numbers show St. Louis power play could determine series

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks are very closely matched by almost any statistical measure. Whether it's special teams, goaltending or zone time, each team ranks near the top of the NHL.

Here are five interesting statistics about their Western Conference First Round series:

1. Special teams

Each team is very strong when playing with the man-advantage. In terms of power-play percentage, the Blackhawks ranked second at 22.6 percent, and the Blues were sixth at 21.5 percent.

On the penalty kill, the Blues have the edge. Their penalty-killing percentage of 85.1 ranked third; the Blackhawks were 22nd at 80.3.

When adding the two numbers together, the Blues had a special-teams index of 106.6, third in the League, and the Blackhawks ranked sixth at 102.9.
Video: CHI@STL: Backes ties game with tip-in on power play

2. Goaltending

St. Louis and Chicago each is very strong in goal. The Blues' Brian Elliott led the NHL in save percentage (.930) for the second time in five seasons. His 2.07 goals-against average was tied with John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks among qualified goalies for second in the NHL, behind Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning (2.06).

There is one category where Elliott was bested by the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford, and that is quality starts. With 40 quality starts in 58 games, Crawford tied Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils for the League lead with a quality start percentage of 69.0. With 26 quality starts in 38 games (68.4 percent), Elliott finished third.
Video: STL@CHI: Elliott dives to make an incredible save

3. Hits

The Blackhawks had 1,389 hits, the fewest in the NHL. They have finished last or next-to-last in each of the past five seasons.

4. Zone start percentage

Based on their share of all shot attempts, the Blues and the Blackhawks each are regarded as above-average puck-possession teams. The Blues were seventh with a shot attempt percentage of 52.0, and the Blackhawks ranked 15th at 50.7.

The picture reverses itself when estimating a team's puck-possession rate by the number of faceoffs it took in the offensive zone compared to the defensive zone. In this regard, Chicago was fourth with an offensive-zone start percentage of 51.8, and the Blues ranked 22nd at 48.7, the second-lowest among playoff teams.

5. Jonathan Toews

Patrick Kane, who had 106 points to win the NHL scoring title, receives a lot of the attention, but the real key to the series for Chicago may be captain Jonathan Toews, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Video: STL@CHI: Toews' wrister puts Blackhawks in front

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