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  • St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, left, reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey opening-round playoff series, Thursday, April 17, 2014, in St. Louis. At right is Blackhawks' Marian Hossa. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee) EDWARDSVILLE OUT ALTON OUT

    Blues’ Tarasenko applauded by his coachApr 18, 2014 12:00 AM
    For the past few days everyone seemed focused on the health of injured Blues’ stars T.J. Oshie, who didn’t play Thursday, and David Backes, who did. Kind of lost in the shuffle was the return of St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

  • Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane, front, celebrates after scoring as St. Louis Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk skates in the background during the first period in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday, April 17, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    Kane braced for playoffsApr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    If Bryan Bickell had just one piece of advice for Patrick Kane concerning wearing a knee brace, what would it be? “The thing you want to do when you have a knee brace is get used to it and make it part of your element,” he said. That’s just what Kane has done, wearing it constantly during his extensive rehab and even sleeping with it on a few times. Now he'll wear it during the postseason as well.

  • The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews controls the puck as St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller and Jay Bouwmeester, left, defend during the third period in Game 1 on Thursday night.

    Tough one to lose for BlackhawksApr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    Rarely, rarely do you ever get to see Jonathan Toews as pumped up as he was Thursday morning. Sure, he still had that stoic, serious look he’s made famous since he came here as a kid, but you could just tell the Blackhawks captain sensed something big happening heading into Game 1 against St. Louis.

  • Backing up goaltender Ryan Miller, Blues center Maxim Lapierre blocks a shot that got past Miller in the first overtime during Game 1 between St. Louis and the Blackhawks on Thursday night.

    Blackhawks give away chance to steal Game 1Apr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    The Blackhawks gave away a great opportunity to win Game 1 and bury a St. Louis team that wasn't feeling very good about themselves.

  • St. Louis Blues’ Alexander Steen, left, is congratulated by teammates David Backes, center, and Steve Ott, right, after scoring the game-winning goal during the third overtime.

    Images: Blackhawks vs. Blues, Game OneApr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    Images of game one of the NHL Playoff Series as the Chicago Blackhawks lost 4-3 in triple OT to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday.

  • St. Louis Blues’ Alexander Steen (20) scores the game-winning goal past Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) during the third overtime in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday, April 17, 2014, in St. Louis. The Blues won 4-3 in triple overtime. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    Blues top Hawks 4-3 in triple OTApr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    Alexander Steen scored at 26 seconds of the third overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Thursday night. Steen beat Corey Crawford off a pair of short passes from Steve Ott and David Backes to cap the longest overtime game in franchise history.

  • St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie (74) tries to get up with help from a trainer but can't after being injured during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

    Blues Oshie ruled out for tonightApr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    The St. Louis Blues have ruled out forward T.J. Oshie for their playoff opener against the Blackhawks, but Vladimir Tarasenko is set to return after missing 15 games with a broken thumb. Coach Ken Hitchcock also says forward Patrik Berglund will not play in Game 1 on Thursday night. He had no update on Oshie, who missed practice Wednesday.

  • Linesman Matt MacPherson (83), breaks a up a scuffle between Chicago Blackhawks' Michal Handzus (26) and St. Louis Blues' Steve Ott (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Wednesday, March, 19, 2014. Chicago won 4-0. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

    For Hawks and Blues, history always mattersApr 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    Inseparable if not intimate, the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues shall renew spring snarls when they commence the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night. This will mark the 11th postseason series between these spirited rivals — but the first since 2002 — and it occurs earlier than expected.

  • What’s with all teams from Chicago?Apr 16, 2014 12:00 AM
    The Blues are the new worthy divisional rivals to the Blackhawks. The question is why any team in any division in any sport should be considered a worthy rival to any team from Chicago, the major-market capital of the Midwest.

  • The Blackhawks’ Bryan Bickell engineered an impressive postseason performance last year and is ready to rise to the challenge when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin today in St. Louis.

    Bickell revved up for postseason rushApr 16, 2014 12:00 AM
    After a postseason to remember last year, Bryan Bickell knows exactly what Blackhawks fans are expecting from him this time around. More of the same.

  • Milestone win for Wolves’ AndersonApr 16, 2014 12:00 AM
    The Chicago Wolves clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs with a 4-3 shootout victory over Iowa on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena as John Anderson earned his 700th regular-season win as a head coach.

  • Tight battles for the pucks like this one between the Blackhawks’ Marcus Kruger, right, and the Blues’ David Backes start anew in Thursday night’s series opener.

    Blackhawks prepare to get physicalApr 16, 2014 12:00 AM
    About the only thing that seems a lock heading into Game 1 is the Blues will bring the bang with their big bodies. It’s what they do. It’s what made them one of the league’s elite teams for most of the season. “Absolutely,” Quenneville said. “When you look at the way they play, and how they play and the consistency of that being a key part of their game. They’re a physical team, we know that.”

  • When the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks get together on the ice, it’s always a physical game, as Andrew Shaw can attest from their Oct. 9, 2013, game in St. Louis.

    Playoff perspective: The view from St. LouisApr 16, 2014 12:00 AM
    Iit is fitting that the Blues and Blackhawks are meeting in the first round, says hockey writer Dave Luecking. It sticks in the Blues’ craw that their biggest rival has won two Cups, and has done so with many ex-Blues on board — coach Joel Quenneville, assistants Mike Kitchen and Jamie Kompon, center Michal Handzus, and exec Scotty Bowman, who led the Blues to three Stanley Cup Finals (no wins) then raised the Cup 13 times with other teams. Plus, Brandon Bollig, who grew up Blues fan and is the first St. Louisan with his name etched into the silver trophy.

  • Q likes balance of Hawks linesApr 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    The return of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to practice Tuesday wasn’t the only change for the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville did some shuffling of the lines as well, putting Brandon Saad and Kris Versteeg with Toews on the top line and placing Kane alongside Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell on the third line.

  • Marian Hossa does things on the ice that still amaze even those who see him every day, his Blackhawks teammates and coaches say.

    Hossa continues to amaze even Blackhawks teammatesApr 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    Marian Hossa, who recently hit the 30-goal mark for the eighth time in his career and who was among league-leaders in takeaways with 75 in 72 games this season, may not be the first name that comes to mind when Blackhawks stars are mentioned, but ask anyone on the team, and they’ll tell you just how special big No. 81 really is.

  • If Blues goalie Ryan Miller isn’t brilliant, St. Louis will have a hard time scoring enough to match the Blackhawks’ offense.

    Blackhawks have to flip switch faster this timeApr 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    With all due respect to the Blues, who were the best team in hockey for a couple months earlier this season, the Blackhawks are better off facing slumping St. Louis right now than red-hot Colorado in the first round.

  • Team Illinois celebrates repeat Showcase triumphApr 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    David Kellner ended his hockey career in perfect fashion Monday morning in Pittsburgh, scoring a goal and adding an assist as Team Illinois won its second consecutive championship in the annual America’s Hockey Showcase.

  • Patrick Kane, left, and Jonathan Toews, celebrating a Toews goal last month, are excited to help the Blackhawks begin their defense of the Stanley Cup.

    They’re back: Toews, Kane ready to goApr 14, 2014 12:00 AM
    Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have gotten used to the lonely life of injury rehab in the NHL the past few weeks, but all that’s about to change when the full squad gathers for practice Tuesday, and for the dynamic duo, it can’t happen soon enough.

  • Sound advice is always welcomeApr 14, 2014 12:00 AM
    Some advice dispensed outside the world of sports sure sounded like a message that could be of use to athletes and the sports journalists that comment on them.

  • In this March 18 photo, Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews skates during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, in Philadelphia. The Blackhawks expect to have Toews and Patrick Kane in the lineup when they play at St. Louis on Thursday after each had long layoffs to heal injuries.

    10 things to watch when NHL playoffs startApr 14, 2014 12:00 AM
    Here’s a look at 10 things to watch when the NHL playoffs begin Wednesday with a new format, some stars returning from injuries and renewed rivalries:

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