Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin, US Presswire

Enough about the Vancouver game, I’m trying to block it from my memory. The Blackhawks had better do the same, because like most years of late, they will have their hands full with their division-rival opponent at the other end if I-55, just for a different reason this time.

St. Louis’ 6-7-0 record does not speak to their current situation. They are a team in a state of upheaval, and it’s every man for himself when the puck drops tonight.

This is going to be a fast, brutal game. The Blackhawks will have to keep their heads to stay in it.

The first coaching change of the year came this past Sunday, when Blues coach Davis Payne was replaced by well-seasoned coaching veteran Ken Hitchcock. Needless to say the team will be fired up: they will likely have been told that they are, in essence, auditioning for their jobs. Hitchcock is a my-way-or-the-highway type coach, and you can bet that he will have broken the spirits of most of the big-money superstars already, letting them know that he has no problem with benching their lazy asses if they don’t give 110% for a full 60 minutes.

So what will St. Louis look like on the ice? Probably guys playing with different line-mates, having been exposed to a new system for all of two practices, and trying like hell to cover their own asses. In other words, the Blues will likely be 20 individuals wearing the same uniform and trying by whatever method seems appropriate to make a good impression on their new boss — and not worrying if that means hanging their line-mates out to dry in the process.

That means lots of cherry-picking, end-to-end rushes, crushing hits, taunting stick-fouls, extra-curricular activities around both creases, and guys who will play like they’re on angel dust until the whistle blows even if it means coughing up their spleen to do it.

The other story in St. Louis is the goaltending situation, where netminder-cum-savior Jaroslav Halak has been playing some of the worst hockey of his career — and youngster Brian Elliott, the guy they signed because he was cheap, is carrying the load and making it look easy. With 7 starts each, Halak has 6 losses, Elliott 5 wins. Halak’s stats are hovering with the league’s basement-dwellers, whereas Elliott is sporting a .941 save percentage and a (wait for it…) 1.72 goals against. Needless to say, Halak is the player most likely to lose his job with a poor performance on Tuesday night, assuming he gets the chance.

Chicago is about to march straight into that vortex of energy, fear and desperation. The only thing that is going to allow them to come through it with a win is unwavering teamwork. It will be interesting to see if the ‘Hawks can rally from their most abysmal performance of the year and come up with the chemistry necessary to withstand what will surely be a chaotic onslaught from the Blues.

Injury report: Chicago’s Duncan Keith is still, officially, day-to-day with a hand injury. The good news there is that he did practice with the team on Monday. For the Blues, forwards B.J. Crombeen, Andy MacDonald, and David Perron are out, as is blueliner Kent Huskins. Halak is the expected starter for St. Louis, Corey Crawford will be in net for Chicago.

7:00pm puck drop in Scottrade Center tonight. Comcast SportsNet has the TV coverage; WGN AM-720 for the radio broadcast; XM radio has the game on channel 204; Sirius Premiere customers will find the game on channel 218.

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Special note for those of you outside of Chicago. I find myself on the road a LOT lately, and unfortunately it’s usually in the evening during Blackhawks games. In my car without XM, that’s an issue. But I took a chance and downloaded the WGN app for BlackBerry, and I can report that it works exceptionally well. I know they have iPhone and Android apps also, hopefully the end result is the same.

For the first field test, I had the displeasure of listening to the ‘Hawks/Canucks game with crystal clear perfection on Sunday night with my BB jacked into the car stereo. There is about a 45-second delay from the live action on the ice, but it’s better than nothing. I thought I would pass that along for you frequent travelers and out-of-towners.

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