By Alex Quigley
4:33 PM CST, March 3, 2014
The Olympics are long gone. The spectacle of snowy Soldier Field is now a beautiful memory. Back to real hockey, my friends. With 20 games to go, the Blackhawks are tied with St. Louis for first in the Central Division.
My semi-bold prediction: They'll finish within four points of each other, meaning the Blackhawks' playoff seed should be determined by the result of two games: March 19 and April 6 against the Blues, both at the United Center.
With the new (old) intradivisional playoff matchup system, we'll probably see the Blues in the postseason the rest of this decade. Prepare to Voltron up all your hockey hatred for Vancouver, Nashville and even Detroit. You'll need it to deal with the eminently hateable Blues.
Ryan Miller, goaltender
Newly traded to St. Louis from Buffalo, he's a former Vezina trophy winner with a lifetime .916 save percentage. A universally respected difference-maker.
Hateability: One pair of stonewashed jorts
Steve Ott, center
Part of the Miller trade, he's a second-line center with a goon streak. Regularly logs triple-digit penalty minutes per season.
Hateability: Three pairs of really frayed stonewashed jorts
David Backes, center
You know that unwritten rule that says team captains shouldn't deliver dirty hits? David Backes is glad it's unwritten, because I'm pretty sure he can't read. Backes got some positive pub for adopting Sochi stray dogs, but you won't care about that when he cross-checks Patrick Kane headfirst into the boards when the puck's 30 feet away.
Hateability: Eight pairs of jorts and two warm half-empty Bud Light Platinums
TJ Oshie, forward
While the rest of the country fawned over the Olympic shootout hero, Hawks fans bit their lip. Luckily he'll get to shoot only once by NHL rules. And yes, he'll score.
Hateability: One square of that garbage-topped St. Louis-style "pizza"
Ryan Reaves, forward
Averages seven minutes on ice per game and more than two minutes in the penalty box per game. I'm not even exaggerating that statistic.
Hateability: One entire dumb, stupid Imo's Pizza
Barret Jackman, defenseman
Will try to fight Brandon Saad. Will skate away from Brandon Bollig. Googling "Barret Jackman sucks" returns 44,400 results. The worst.
Hateability: Ripped-up jorts soaked in old beer, stained with ketchup-pizza sauce washed up on the bank of the Mississippi River in August
Alex Quigley can be heard from 1-3 p.m. weekdays on 87.7 FM The Game.Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.
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