First meets Worst - Blackhawks back in action @ UC tonight
Well I’m sure the Blackhawks all had a great holiday as well they should. They went into the holiday break with one of the best records. You could say the entire month of December has been very good with an 8-1-1 record in the month. In fact coming out of the break the Blackhawks are on top of the Central Division, Western Conference and NHL.
For how good things have been for the Blackhawks the Columbus Blue Jackets story is the complete opposite. In the month of December their record has been 3-6-1 and finds them in the bottom of the Central Division, Western Conference and the entire NHL.
In just about every category the Blackhawks are dominating the Blue Jackets which is why this game should have the Hawks handling the Blue Jackets easily. In their previous two meeting the Hawks handled Columbus easily. In the past three years the Hawks have dominated the series four games to two.
The only thing the Blackhawks need to be wary of is not beating themselves. This could be a trap game if the Hawks look past this game. Let’s not forget it was these Columbus Blue Jackets that recently beat the Vancouver Canucks. They are an NHL team and can’t be overlooked.
The Blackhawks need to rack up as many points now as the road in February will be a tough one. They will again have a stretch where they will be on the west coast again and Western Canada. Unfortunately they will be going to Alberta again. Let’s hope for no repeats of the Alberta massacre in Calgary and Edmonton. Points for the Hawks now are crucial.
The Blackhawks when interviewed all say the same thing that they can get better. If they are not satisfied that is a good thing. The only thing I’m looking for from the Hawks is better defensive play in their own zone. This is something I will harp on until it is better. I want to see limited turnovers and odd man breaks. I’m looking for them to play a complete sixty minutes and solid consistent play.
If I had to add a cherry on top I would ask the defensemen to get involved offensively when opportunities present themselves. Keith, Leddy, Seabrook, Montador certainly have the skill and the shots to help out offensively. So please keep firing away. Niklas Hjalmarsson I’d like to see taking more shots on goal and from the point, if nothing else it could create rebound situations for the forwards up front.
Who’s hot right now for the Hawks is Marian Hossa who has scored 4 goals and 8 assists lately. Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews also have had the hot hand or rather the hot sticks and Patrick Kane has historically lit up the box scores against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Also look for sleeper Viktor Stalberg as he has been heating it up in the last three games providing goals or assists. He certainly has the capabilities to always be a threat especially against one of the worst defenses in the NHL.
It will be Corey Crawford to start in the Hawks nets since his solid performance in his comeback game last Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens. Corey is now (13-7-2) with a GAA of 2.91 and a SV% of .898
For the Blue Jackets Vinny Prospol leads his team in points. Rick Nash and Jeff Carter who is back in the lineup and recorded a hat trick in Columbus’ last game are always scoring threats.
Injuries – Daniel Carcillo and Marcus Kruger skated this morning but I'm not sure if they will skate tonight. For the Columbus Blue Jackets Radek Martinek and Kristian Huselius will be out as well.
Hawks next play again Wednesday night @ the UC vs. the LA Kings which can be caught on CSN or WGN Radio 720
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