Blackhawks seek to extinguish the Flames in Calgary tonight
The Blackhaws will be entering the Saddledome on Saturday on the back end of a back-to-back, the third game on their road trip. Despite 2 OT losses in their last two games, Chicago is currently riding a franchise record season-opening point streak (8).
The Calgary Flames had last night off and will be eager to prove themself against red-hot Chicago. Calgary is currently in last place in the Western Conference, with a record of just 1-3-1. Their only win came against the Oilers on the Flames' home ice.
Travel fatigue can't be an excuse for Calgary - the Flames are one of four Western teams whose first 12 games are played more heavily at home than away (8-4) and have only played five games to date. No, the Flames are just -- well, looking like the Flames. So far, Calgary has been outscored 21-14 overall, and 18-12 on home ice.
So far this season, the Flames are tied for 7th on the power play at 25%, and are 29th in the league for PK at 66.7% (only the Jets are worse, at 59.3%).
Miikka Kiprusoff is again in net for Calgary; so far this season he is .854 sv% and 3.76 GAA and has been in net for all five games the Flames have played.
It is expected that Kiprusoff will face off in net against Ray Emery, who went .862 sv% and 4.00 GAA in the Blackhawks' game vs. Phoenix.
The Blackhawks have struggled a bit in the past two games, but have still managed to come away with a point in road tilts against the Wild and the Canucks. Patrick Sharp in particular needs to look better; he was sluggish against the Wild, and then looked badly off in the first two periods against Vancouver before some good effort in the third and overtime.
Fortunately for Chicago, their defense has been clicking this season. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy look better for their time spent in the Italian league and the AHL. Duncan Keith looks more like the familiar 2010 Norris-winning Keith. While Brent Seabrook hasn't looked fully yet to form yet, he has become a shot-blocking machine -- his 23 blocks are second overall in the league.
Chicago will have to play a tight, disciplined game, made more difficult after a high-paced game last night. The Blackhawks should also look to try to draw penalties, as the Flames are averaging a league-low 7.6 PIM / 3.8 penalties per game, but have allowed goals on 26.3% of them. (Chicago is currently 33.3% on the PP.)
Last season, the two teams were 2-2, each game won on the team's home ice. Kiprusoff's record against Chicago is 12-13-5-0 with a .901 sv% and 2.96 GAA; last season, he was .912 sv% and 2.53 against the Blackhawks.
Emery's career record versus the Flames is 4-2-0-1, with just 1.57 GAA.
Time: 9:00 p.m. CST
Blackhawks record: 6-0-2
Flames record: 1-3-1
Location: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta
Official Chicago Blackhawks roadwatch location: O'Malley's Liquor Kitchen, 3551 N. Sheffield
Where to watch: CSN-CH, CBC, RDS
Where to listen: WGN 720 Chicago (phone app available); FAN 960 Alberta
Next 2 games: Tues 2/5 9:30pm CST @ San Jose; Thur 2/7 8:00pm CT @ Phoenix