Blackhawks face the Buffalo Sabres
The Blackhawks prepare to face an unfamiliar Eastern Conference opponent. The last time the Hawks faced the Buffalo Sabres was back in 2012. This will be the first of two meetings this season between these two clubs.
The Buffalo Sabres are winless to this point with a 0-4-1 record which, could make them a very dangerous team if the Hawks overlook them or the dislike level is too low considering they have not faced each other much.
The Sabres come into this tilt with scoring problems as they are just averaging one goal a game. If that continues then the Blackhawks should be in good shape. You can never discount the Sabres however with Ryan Miller in net for Buffalo. Look for Corey Crawford to return to the Hawks' net.
This will be the first back to back games this year for the Hawks. It will be a good test to see how the Blackhawks respond. Historically the Hawks are usually better in the second of back to back games.
The Hawks got back to form in last night’s game to being able to close out an opponent and are looking for this to continue.
We are early in the season but there are a couple of concerns that have cropped up for the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The penalty kill so far this season has yet to be the force it was last year. Buffalo only averages 11% power play so this opponent would be a good one to get that back on track.
On the flip side Buffalo so far this year has been very good on their penalty kill and the Hawks although improved so far this year on the power play have had issues in the past. The Sabres will be a good test for the Hawks power play.
What to look for:
· Line combinations and which ones will click and stay. Last game coach Quenneville did some serious mind bending, line blending so it will be interesting to see what sticks. Brandon Saad is quietly becoming a force.
· Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have found the back of opponents nets for the Hawks while Thomas Vanek & Cody Hodgson have points in three straight games for the Sabres.
· Brandon Pirri was called up from Rockford look for him in the lineup. He and the other Chicago Blackhawks centers should fair pretty well in the faceoff circles.
Injuries – Chicago all are healthy
Buffalo - Ville Leino, Corey Tropp and Henrik Tallinder are out.
Hawks can be seen on WGN TV in Chicago and NHLNetwork in the US or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 7:00 pm CT.