Blackhawks look to turn their fortunes taking on Columbus Blue Jackets
Everybody at some point in their lives must go through a spell when things just do not seem to go your way. Maybe it’s poor luck or missteps with your timing or bad news one receives. We all have experienced this or had patches when you might not feel like yourself and things just are a little askew. The Blackhawks are now in one of these patches and are looking oddly enough for their first win in 2012.
The Blackhawks are coming into this game having lost their last four games. To make matters even worse they have also lost their sharpshooter Patrick Sharp for the next 3-4 weeks. He is second on the team behind Jonanthan Toews in goals scored with twenty. His loss could not come at a more crucial time.
The Blackhawks now find themselves third in their division behind both Detroit and St. Louis in what looks to be shaping up as a battle in the Central that may again go down to the wire into the playoffs. They are in the midst of a month where they have an extraordinary amount of home games that they should be taking advantage of which to date they have not. Detroit and St. Louis will be facing division cellar dwellers in the Islanders and the Canadiens respectively tonight so the Blackhawks must keep pace.
Normally you would think all would be well facing Columbus since they reside last in the division and the league. This will be the fourth time this year these two will meet and the Hawks have won all three previous encounters. The Hawks statistically are better than the Blue Jackets in every category yet the struggles the Hawks have had of late do not give one a sense of calm that this will be easy.
As I stated sometimes timing has a lot to do with things and the Blackhawks are coming into this game with timing not on their side. Columbus has fired their coach and in the interim has promoted Todd Richards as their acting head coach. Teams always seem to play better under a coaching change. Look for the Blue Jackets to come out with something to prove to their new coach, so the Hawks will have this to contend with as well.
All however is not doom and gloom. The last game against the Red Wings saw a much better skating effort by the Blackhawks and they were able to at least get one point in the very tight standings. Every team will go through scoring droughts, losses and injuries. It is better the Hawks face this now rather than in March when they are seriously pushing for a playoff run. Some of the team’s weaknesses have been exposed but, in this case maybe timing works in their favor. They have time to address any short falls before the trade deadline.
While a player the caliber of Patrick Sharp can’t be replaced, his absence will give the young players more ice time. Along those lines Ben Smith has been recalled from Rockford. Look for him to skate against Columbus. The veterans on this team will need to step up as well and band together to push this team through the darkness.
The good thing is we all know that these Blackhawks know how to do exactly that even if they themselves have forgotten. The last time that the Hawks had a losing stretch this long was back in the 2009/2010 season. You know when they went on to win the Stanley Cup. Let’s hope they can duplicate that feat. If so, I guarantee no one will even remember this losing stretch.
It will be Corey Crawford to start in the Hawks nets with a GAA of 2.86 and a SV% of .901
Last time Viktor Stalberg had two goals on these Blue Jackets maybe he can get the Hawks jump started again.
Scoring leaders for the Blue Jackets are Vinny Prospol who leads his team in points and Rick Nash who is always scoring threats.
Injuries – Patrick Sharp, Daniel Carcillo and Marcus Kruger are all out for the Hawks. For the Columbus Blue Jackets Radek Martinek,Mark Letestu, Kristian Huselius, Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski be out as well.
Hawks next play again Thursday night @ the UC vs. the Minnesota Wild which can be caught on CSN @7:30 CT or WGN Radio 720
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