Blackhawks want to keep going strong against Flames

The last Canadian team the Blackhawks (17-4-4) are facing during their circus trip are the Calgary Flames (8-11-4), who are looking for a solid win in regulation after their last three contests were decided in OT or a shootout. The first and only game these two teams have played against each other ended with the Flames prevailing in overtime.


The Blackhawks will be looking to keep their 3-game win streak alive while the Flames will look to start a streak themselves after winning against the Florida Panthers in the shootout last Friday. They will be a lot more rested than the Blackhawks who played two games during Calgary’s 4-day break, but the Blackhawks are hot at the moment, with their defense being a lot more active and a lot more goals than they had at the beginning of the season (13G in the last 3 games).


The Flames are benefiting from good, and sometimes acrobatic, goaltending by Reto Berra and the clutch play of Sean Monahan (8G, 6A), their 2013 Draft 1st round pick. Jiri Hudler (7G, 14A) has been strong for the team as well. Unfortunately, the team is still missing their captain Mark Giordano, and the rest of the team is not producing enough - they’ve only scored 8 goals in their last 3 games, and 14 of their contests have been one-goal games.


It’s probable that Reto Berra will get the start for the Flames.


Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are rolling four lines and getting production from everyone, as yesterday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers proves - 1st line center Jonathan Toews (12G, 12A) scored, as did 2nd line right-wing Patrick Kane (13G, 13A), extending his points streak to 11 games. 3rd line center Andrew Shaw (7G, 8A) also scored, and so did defenseman Johnny Oduya (2G, 5A). 10 Blackhawks ended with a point or more after this game.


D-man Duncan Keith is having a stellar beginning of the season, leading the team - and the NHL defensemen - with 19 assists. Marian Hossa should be back for the game against Calgary after a family matter called him back to Chicago.


Goaltender Corey Crawford has been strong for Chicago in the past 3 games; he seems to have gained in confidence and is solid in net. However, summer signing Anti Raanta is to start in net against Calgary.


It will be interesting to see if the special units have an impact on this match-up, as both team’s penalty kill is poor: Calgary sits 26th in the league while Chicago is 29th. However, the Blackhawks’ power play is stronger (11th in the league) at 20.7% against the Flame’s 15.4% (23rd in the league).


What looks on paper to be like an easy win for the Blackhawks might be more difficult than that in reality as the Flames will be well-rested and hopefully coming out fighting. Chicago is looking for sustained consistency and a strong 60-minutes game, and the game should be a good watch.


Game time is 10.00 p.m. ET and  can be seen live on TSN and WGN.


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