Hawks looking to bounce back against Wings
The Blackhawks have not gone into the new year playing very well to say the least. They are looking to turn that all around against divisional foe Detroit Red Wings today. The last time in fact that the Blackhawks have won a game has been against Detroit that’s how long it’s been.
The last time these two teams meet at the UC the Hawks won 3-2 in which they played a very good game. In that game that saw a Toews penalty shot goal and Brent Seabrook continued his career successes against the winged wheel jerseys. Crawford had a stellar game as well to help his team hang on to win.
They may have only played one another nine days ago but it seems like these two teams have gone in opposite directions ever since. The Hawks have lost three games in a row and the Red Wings have won two games and are coming in fresh off a heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
To say the Blackhawks need this one badly is a mammoth understatement. They need these points to keep pace in the Western Conference and their own Central Division. The Blackhawks now find themselves 4thd in the Western Conference and 2nd within their own division behind St. Louis Blues with Detroit and Nashville right behind them.
We are now half way through the season and this game could be a good indication of how the rest of the season will go for the Blackhawks. I don’t anticipate a lack of effort like we saw in the last game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Red Wings are ahead of the Hawks in every category except face-offs won. The Blackhawks should know what is at stake here and what they have to do. I do not want to see or hear from them that they got “over worked”.
Injuries have hurt the Hawks to a certain degree with Kruger, Montador and Carcillo being out from either injuries or suspensions. The Hawks can’t use that as an excuse every team has injuries and you have to learn to deal with them or the front office may need to address these issues earlier than they may have wanted to. Montador will be back on the ice as he was at practice this morning paired with O’Donnell so this should help.
The Blackhawks are coming into this game with a record of 24-13-4 and 52 points and should be proud of what they have accomplished in the first half of the year. They will need to keep pace and push to the end of the season because unfortunately it looks like they are playing in toughest division in the NHL with three teams having over 50 points. Tonights a good time to start a winning trend.
Corey Crawford (2.86 GAA &.902 SV%) will be in goal for the Blackhawks tonight and Ty Conklin (3.23 GAA & .889 SV %) will be in for the Red Wings.
Congratulations to Sean O’Donnell as well he will be playing in his 1,200th game tonight. That’s a lot of ice covered.
Keys to the game
I’m looking for a much better defensive effort from the entire team with better clear-outs in front of their net and to cut down on the give aways in their own end of the ice which has been killing them all year long. Last time out the Hawks did a superb job in this area with not allowing Franzen, Datsyuk and Zetterberg to get many SOG. They will need a similar defensive effort to walk away with two points.
The Hawks give up way to many goals against and are ranked 20rd in the league in this category which is above where they were last year. This is a little alarming because we all know last year was not a display of the teams best defensive efforts. The goaltending has been so so from both Crawford and Emery. While none of the losses were their faults they still need to improve particularly when your defense is struggling.
Also the Hawks need to stay out of the penalty box as their special teams this year are awful. They are currently ranked 26th in the league on the PK so stay out of the box. Detroit is also ranked 7th overall in the league on power plays.
Who to look for:
· Look for Brent Seabrook to have a good game as historically he always has scored on the Wings
· Look for the stars to come out on fire. They were kept scoreless in the last game and were pretty quiet in the Flyers game as well. Only a late tally by Kane saw a top six forward scoring so they are due to light the lamp.
· Don’t be surprised if either Jimmy Hayes or Andrew Shaw have big games tonight
· On the Wings side look out for the always dangerous Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula & Henrik Zetterburg.