Blackhawks continue to tune up for playoffs against Capitals
In their only meeting of the regular season this year the Blackhawks will take on the Washington Capitals. The Capitals have not had the kind of year that is normal for them and have struggled along with their superstar Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin still is leading him team in points with 53 29 goals and 24 assists.
The Capitals (36-29-6) are currently hanging onto eighth place in the east with the Winnipeg Jets breathing down their necks in the ninth spot only just two points behind. The Capitals also are coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Jets. So the Capitals come into this game desperately wanting to win and collect points to stay ahead in last playoff spot.
The Hawks are coming into this game after coming off of some big wins over St. Louis and Dallas and are currently in the sixth position in the Western Conference. The Hawks will still be without captain Jonathan Toews and Dmen Steve Montador & Sami Lepisto. The Hawks know the playoffs have already begun and every game is now a must win as the Avalanche, Kings and Sharks all won last night. It should be a battle in the game tonight.
In goal for the Blackhawks will be Corey Crawford who hopes to continue his stellar play in goal. After coming in for Emery in relief against the Blues to spur his team onto a come from behind win and a near perfect game against the Dallas Stars Crawford will once again start in the Hawks net. He will really need to be on his game tonight. Previous encounter with the Capitals in prior years have all been close so the goaltending could be the deciding factor in this one. Look for Nuevirth to be in goal for the Capitals.
Keys to the game
Ø The Capitals are ranked 7th overall in the NHL in PIM and take a lot of penalties. The Hawks power play continues to struggle but if they can somehow get the power play going the Capitals would be a good team to do it against as their PK is not that good either.
Ø The Capitals are ranked among the NHL’s highest in giveaways. If the Hawks can convert on these changes especially early they can take control of the game.
Ø The Hawks need to continue playing their solid team game. If they can win the battles in the face-off circles and not giveaway the puck and forecheck and get takeaways they will be in good position.
Ø Again the Hawks are facing a very good shot blocking team. They will need to move in the offensive zone to open up shooting and passing lanes.
Who to look for:
· Look for Alex Ovechkin even though he is having a off year he is always a threat
· Look for the Kane, Hossa and Sharp to have a big game particularly Kane who has been heating it up as of late with 5 goals and 4 assists in the last nine Hawks games.
· Laich has four goals in last six games. Hawks need to be aware of him on the ice.
· Watch the Capitals defensemen in the offensive zone. They have a group of defensemen that can score goals.
· Former Blackhawks Troy Brouwer may want to prove something to his former team. Look for him to play inspired.
Hawks can be seen on Sunday against the Washington Capitals on NBCSN or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 6:00 pm CT.
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