Hawks head out to California, face the Sharks
The Blackhawks (33-10-13) are on a West Coast road trip, facing the San Jose Sharks (34-15-6) after winning in Vancouver on Wednesday. These two teams have met twice in the regular season already, and have split wins; the hawks won their first encounter 5-1, while the Sharks took the second in the shootout after regulation ended at 2-2.
Both teams have been very solid this season, both in the top 5 teams in the League at the moment with 79 points for Chicago and 74 for San Jose. The Sharks have been consistent all season but they’ve recently hit a snag, losing three games in row, all of their games this week. The Blackhawks themselves have gone with 4 losses in a row before earning a win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, a win that hopefully will kickstart their offense again.
The Blackhawks’ fourth line has been stellar; despite starting most of their shifts in the defensive zone, they have managed to produce points, while troubling opponents’ offense. The top lines have slowed down their points production some, having had issues getting the puck in the net in the past couple of weeks.
The Sharks were on the other side of Edmonton Oilers’ Ben Scrivens’ record-setting shutout on wednesday. Despite shooting the puck in the Oilers’ D-zone 100 times, they couldn’t score on the new Edmonton goalie, but they were resilient and never gave up on the game.
In goal, we can expect Corey Crawford (2.45 GAA, .911 SV%) for the Blackhawks, and Antti Niemi (2.38 GAA, .913 V%) for the Sharks.
Against the Sharks, the Blackhawks will have to play a 60 minutes game and not let up, either in defense or in offense. They will want their top 2 lines to keep the offense going, hoping to get more goals from wingers Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa, as well as center Jonathan Toews, who all scored in the past couple of games and will need to keep going on this leg of their road trip, which will see them face all three Californian teams in a row, which are some of the very hardest teams to beat at the moment.
The Sharks, with the heavy, physical play of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns, will bring their A-game to try and beat the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.
Hossa - Toews - Sharp
Kane - Pirri - Versteeg
Bickell - Shaw - Saad
Bollig - Kruger - Smith
Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Oduya
Leddy - Brookbank
Burns - Pavelski - Thornton
Nieto - Marleau - Wingels
Kennedy - Desjardins - Kearns
Mccarthy - Sheppard - Hayes
Stuart - Braun
Demers - Vlasic
Boyle - Irwin
Game time is 10.30 p.m. ET and can be seen live on NHLN-US, CSN-CH, and CSN-CA.