Blackhawks Look to End Homestand with Win Against Oilers

CHI vs EDM
02/25/2013
7:30pm CST
 

The Chicago Blackhawks (15-0-3) look to extend their eighteen game points streak against the Edmonton Oilers (7-7-3) on home ice tonight. It’s the first of three meetings between the two Western Conference squads in this shortened season.

The Blackhawks, who, almost inconceivably, have yet to yield a regulation loss through their first 18 games, are playing in the second half of their fourth back-to-back this season after dispatching the perennially challenged Columbus Blue Jackets 1-0 last night. Despite putting forth one of their weakest efforts of the season, the Hawks were able to walk away with yet another victory on the strength of goaltender Corey Crawford’s second shutout of the season in his first start since February 10th.

Edmonton’s visit to the United Center tonight comes as the first of a nine game road trip for the club after having completed a five game home stand that saw the team go 2-3 with wins against Phoenix and Colorado, neither of whom are exactly a powerhouse this season.

In the month of February, Edmonton has averaged a meager 2.0 goals per game, including a win over the Avalanche in which they potted six. If the Oilers are unable to find their scoring touch tonight, they won’t stand much of a chance against a Blackhawks group that has averaged better than three goals per game over their first eighteen.

At the time of this writing it is unclear as to who will start between the pipes for the surging Blackhawks, but it’s difficult to see how they could go wrong. Netminders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have been nothing short of spectacular for the Blackhawks this season and are looking awfully reminiscent of the Jaroslav Halak-Brian Elliott tandem that took home last year’s William M. Jennings Trophy as members of the St. Louis Blues. Just take a look:

Player - Team Season Record GAA Save %
Jaroslav Halak - STL '11-'12 26-12-7 1.97 0.926
Brian Elliott - STL '11-'12 23-10-4 1.56 0.940
Corey Crawford - CHI '12-'13 8-0-3 1.50 0.941
Ray Emery - CHI '12-'13 7-0-0 2.10 0.930

 

One place the Oilers should look to gain an edge tonight would be on the power play, where their 23.7% conversion rate is good for seventh best in the league. By using their speed against a potentially tired Chicago unit that played just 24 hours earlier, the struggling Oilers may be able take control of the game by capitalizing on the man advantage. The last time Chicago had to endure back-to-back games they surrendered 47 shots to Calgary and nearly lost in regulation.

Team Stats:

Blackhawks STAT Oilers
33 P 17
0.917 P% 0.500
3.11 G/G 2.24
1.78 GA/G 2.65
17.3 PP% 23.7
89.6 PK% 87.5
30.6 S/G 29.5

 

Injury Report:
Chicago second-line center Dave Bolland is day-to-day with an upper body injury, but could play against Edmonton tonight. Defenseman Steve Montador participated in the Friday morning skate for the Hawks, but no return date has been set.
Edmonton remains without Andy Sutton, team captain Shawn Horcoff, Anton Lander, and Lennart Petrell.
 

Blackhawks record: 15-0-3
Oilers record: 7-7-3
Time: 7:30pm CST
Location: United Center
Where to watch: CSN-CH, SNET-W
Where to listen: WGN 720, 630 CHED
Next 2 games: Thursday 2/28 @ STL, Friday 3/1 v CBJ

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