CHICAGO – Over the past few years, there has been a changing of the guard when it comes to the Central Division.
As the Blackhawks have struggled over the past two-and-a-half seasons, and will likely be out of the playoff for a third-straight season, their reign at the top of the division has come to an end.
Recently, it’s been the Blues who have risen towards the top and cemented themselves there after winning the Stanley Cup last June.
Over the past few months, St. Louis has continued to do so by taking it to the team that claimed the top of the central for most of the last decade. Not once in four tries were the Blackhawks able to best the Blues, and that included Sunday night.
For a second time this season, goalie Jake Allen shutout the Blackhawks on their home ice, this time making 29 saves in a 2-0 win for St. Louis that continues their outstanding season. Meanwhile, the home team couldn’t back up another strong effort from Corey Crawford, as he made 24 saves but couldn’t get the win.
Allen also shutout the Blackhawks in a 4-0 decision at the United Center on December 2nd as the Blues swept all four meetings with the Blackhawks this year. St. Louis had third period rallies to beat their division foes on December 14th (4-3) and February 25th (6-5) in the two games at the Enterprise Center.
The results represent the two paths the teams are currently on this season and over the past few.
Right now the Blues have 92 points on the season, which its tops in the Western Conference and tied for second-highest in the league with the Lightning. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit at 70 points following consecutive losses, which is six points out of the last Wild Card spot with 13 games left to go.
Two points got away Sunday thanks to an offense slowed by Allen and goals from Robert Bortuzzo in the second then Alex Pietrangelo in the third. Included in that was a hard elbow to the face of Adam Boqvist by Oskar Sundqvist that knocked the defenseman out of the game and led to a skirmish between a few players.
All were part of another forgettable night for the Blackhawks against their division rivals, who continue to solidify their hold on the top of the Central Division.