Hitchcock: Blues chances hinge on Miller

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Just like last spring, the St. Louis Blues have the higher seed but the unenviable task of facing the defending Stanley Cup champion in the first round of the playoffs.

For the Blues to prevail against the Chicago Blackhawks in a matchup of 100-point teams, coach Ken Hitchcock says they'll need standout play from goalie Ryan Miller. St. Louis lost in six games to the Kings and Jonathan Quick last year and acquired Miller in hopes of making a deep run.

Hitchcock anticipates game-time decisions for the opener Thursday night, with a roster hit hard by injuries during a six-game losing streak to end the regular season.

Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are back from lengthy injury layoffs.