Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers
The Blackhawks will take on the Edmonton Oilers (4-12-2) who currently reside in the cellar of the Pacific division in the Western Conference. Both teams will be coming into this game as the second of back to back games.
The Oilers are coming in off of a matinee loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia and the Blackhawks are coming in off of a win in Dallas. The Oilers come into town, their suitcases packed full with troubles and questions along with their Dopp kits.
There is no question that there is enough young, skilled talent on the Oilers squad, their problems have been on the defensive side of the puck. The organization recently made a questionable trade with letting their only solid defenseman Ladislav Smid go to Calgary which certainly will impact their defence.
Despite the Oilers record and standings the Hawks have historically had trouble with this team so they should not look past the Oilers. If the Hawks play a solid defensive game and not try to run and gun with the Oilers they should be able to handily beat this beleaguered team.
What to look for:
The Hawks need to jump on the defensive mistakes that will be made by the Oilers in their zone or the neutral zone and capitalize whenever they can. They need to pressure the Oilers in their end and transition well.
The Oilers have speed to burn and as odd as this is considering the Hawks are one of the fastest teams in the NHL they do not want to get in a run and shoot game with Oilers. This is one of the teams that may actually benefit from this style of play. The Hawks should look to jam up the middle on the Oilers like everyone does to the Hawks. This should slow them down and not allow goals off of the rush.
· For Edmonton pick any out of the plethora of young talent this team has. Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall can all hurt you in your zone it is in their zone that they equally hurt the Oilers as much as an opponent.
· For the Blackhawks the Jonathan Toews line, anyone on the Toews line. Marian Hossa is coming off of a 2 goal game and Patrick Sharp had four assists in that game. Not to be left out the captain himself had a goal and an assist.
The other interesting thing of note will be who will be in net for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford had a lot of work last night in Dallas with all the penalties that the team took. It will be interesting to see if Nikolai Khabibulin gets the call in front of the United Center crowd where if things go south it could be a not too pretty site.
This is the first contest of the year between these two clubs and hopefully since this is a brand new year the Blackhawks can erase past history with this team and give them an lesson in team defensive play. The Oilers are a talented group but hopefully they do not find their defensive strides just yet.
Hawks can be seen on WGN TV in Chicago or listen on WGN Radio 720 Chicago; In Edmonton SNET-W, SNET-EDM RADIO: 630 CHED. Start time is at 6:30 pm CT.