Chicago Blackhawks 5-1-2 (12 Pts.) vs. Caroliona Hurricanes 3-3-3 (9Pts.)
Gameday Preview From Blackhawks.com
Opposition Site: Cardiac Cane
The Chicago Blackhawks are literally streaking into Carolina tonight planning to keep the point per game streak going since their opening night loss to the Dallas Stars in Dallas. The storyline for this game is the streak that both teams are on. With the Hawks racking up the points, the Carolina Hurricanes on the other hand are trying to prevent themselves from losing their fourth game in a row. Before we get ourselves too confident let’s keep something in perspective. The Hawks haven’t won a game in Carolina since a 4-1 victory in January 1998. Since then they’ve lost five games and have a tie to show for their efforts.
While that history may have caused concern for last year’s inconsistent squad, however this year’s version would appear to be “smelling” victory with a bit more passion and urgency. When you look at the TSN Gameday, you’ll see a number of Hawks listed in the “hot” section, with center Patrick Kane (still sounds odd) having scored a point in each of his last eight games. Mr. Goodlooking himself Patrick Sharp seems to be one of the hottest with 5 points on his last 4 games, as he and Kane lead the Hawks in scoring with 8 points a piece. What’s even more pleasing about the scoring is that it seems more balanced this year, as Dave Bolland, and Marian Hossa are contributing timely goals, and of course Captain Serious is his usual self both offensively and defensively.
I must say that besides the move of Kaner to center the other move that is a pleasant surprise is the play of Daniel Carcillo on that line of Kane and Hossa. While Carcillo has no goals, he’s been a factor with other parts of his game by creating space and keeping people on their toes when he’s on the ice. His energy has been a huge plus to the team, and if he continues to control himself this will quietly be one of the best moves that Stan Bowman made this offseason.
While the penalty killing unit is cruising along at a 91% rate, the power play needs to get itself going have only scored 13% of the time. The Canes could be the right remedy for that as their PK unit has killed off only 76% of the chances against. Expect to see Corey Crawford in net again who has a 4-1-2 record with a 2.08 GAA so far this season.
The Hurricanes meanwhile are streaking the other way, having lost their last three games and falling further behind the South East Division race, falling further behind the Washington Capitals. After coming back from a 2-0 deficit against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, they ended up losing 3-2 in a shootout, with their two goals being scored by former Hawk Tuomo Ruutu and last year’s rookie of the year Jeff Skinner.
Coach Paul Maurice has been doing some line shuffling as his team’s been struggling and look Maurice to change things up again if the Cane’s can’t find any consistency. Cam Ward has played better as of late and has not lost a game in regulation in his last five starts. In his last three games Ward is 1-0-2 with a 1.90 m GAA and a .943 SA%. When he gets in a zone he is one of the tougher goaltenders to beat, and he could be coming around.
The the team has been struggling and players like veteran Alexei Ponikarovsky feel that the chemistry will come together soon. He had this to say on the team’s website:
“We’re trying to find, as a team, the right guys to play with,” Alexei Ponikarovsky(notes), the newest member of the third line, told the team’s official website. “During the year, it always happens. It’s not just our team. We’re just trying to find chemistry and create more offensively.”
The Hawks are averaging 3.25 goals per game, which combined with their superb goaltending could continue the backwards streak that the Hurricanes are on.
* Former Hawk Tuomo Ruutu is four assists shy of getting his 100th as a Carolina Hurricane.
* in 64 games between the two teams the Hawks lead the series 30-26-8.
* The Canes have earned points in 10 of the last 11 games against the Hawks.
* Paul Maurice became the seventh coach in NHL history to coach his 900th game with one team when the Canes took on Buffalo October 14th, winning 4-3.
* The 5-1-2 start is the best start the Hawks have had aftger 8 games since 1971-72 when they started 7-1-0.
* Since 1990 only 3 players have posted more points than Patrick Kane before turning 23 (Sidney Crosby, Eric Lindros and Jaromir Jagr <327>). Kane will be 23 on November 19th.
* The last time Patrick Sharp was at the RBC Center in Carolina he was being honored as the MVP for the NHL All-Star game, in 2011. One goal and two assists.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. I hope you enjoy the outcome!
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