8:30 Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta
TV: Comcast Sports Net Chicago
Radio: 720 AM WGN
Tonight is the 4th and final meeting between the Blackhawks and the Edmonton Oilers. The last time the Hawks were in the Rexall Place, on November 19th, they were beat down worse than Carlo Rizzi. The Oilers followed that up with a 4-3 win, in Chicago, on January 2nd. The game winning goal that night was scored by Ben Eager, which made that loss 100 times worse!
Edmonton is chalked full of young talent and will be a force in the Western Confernece, just not right now. They find themselves towards the bottom of the standings and 12 points out of the playoffs. Only the Columbus Blue Jackets are keeping them out of the cellar. With all that being said they have taken 2 out of the 3 meetings against the Hawks this season. This is a team that the Hawks need to bury, but we all know they will most likely make us all drink and swear by the bushel tonight!
Devan Dubnyk will get the start in net tonight for the Oilers, who has been playing better of late. He is taking more and more playing time away from Nikolai Khabibulin, who lets face it, has been bad at hockey and drunk most of the season. Edmonton will be without the services of rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defenseman Tom Gilbert who hasn’t recovered from getting Carbombed on January 2nd. Former Blackhawk Cam Barker will also miss tonight’s game, not that anyone will notice.
Taylor Hall (do yourself a favor and click on this just to see one of the goofiest looking media guide pictures you will ever see) and All Star Jordan Eberle have killed the Hawks this season. Hall has 8 points (2 G, 6 A) and Eberle has 6 points (4 G, 2 A) in the 3 meeting this year, so slowing down these young guns will be a key. The Blackhawks will need to do another good job of staying out of the penalty box. The Oilers have the 3rd best power play in the league, at 21.6 %, which only trails Vancouver and Nashville. The Hawks did not commit any minor penalties Tuesday in Vancouver so a repeat of that is unlikely but would be nice.
The Blackhawks are coming off a really good effort in Vancouver on Tuesday. They will need to come out with the same effort tonight. Edmonton may be down in the standings, but they are young enough to not care and they will not back down. The Hawks have overlooked them twice already this season so they need to be ready to play a complete game. This is a big 2 points on the line for the Blackhawks tonight against a team they “should” beat.
Corey Crawford, who was fantastic against the Canucks, gets the start tonight. Look for the top line to have a good game tonight. Jonathan Toews has 3 goals and Patrick Kane has 4 assists against the Oilers this season. Add to the mix that Viktor Stalberg is coming off one of his best games as a pro, the Hawks’ top line should be fun to watch tonight. Coach Q has decided to go with the 5 man defensive system again by starting John Scott again tonight. I hope Duncan Keith got a good night’s sleep last night because he is going to need it!! If the Blackhawks give the same effort tonight as they did on Tuesday they will get the 2 points they are looking for.