7:00 PM, United Center, Chicago, IL
TV: Comcast Sports Net Chicago
Radio: 720 AM WGN
One of the NHL’s original and best rivalries will be renewed tonight, at the Madhouse, as the Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings. The last time we saw the Wings in Chicago, on Jan 8th, they left tied with the Blackhawks for tops in the Western Conference. A lot has changed since then. The Red Wings have pulled away from the Hawks and currently have 84 points which is 13 more than the Blackhawks. The recent hot streak by the Wings paired with the losing streak by Chicago has pretty much ended any shot the Hawks had at winning the Central Division.
Detroit enters tonight having won their last 6 contests, all at home, part of their record breaking 23 game home winning streak. The Wings have lost their last 2 road games before the 6 game home stand. They are getting one of the their big stars back with All Star goalie Jimmy Howard returning to action tonight. This will be Howard’s first game since a Feb 2nd shootout win in Vancouver. Howard has struggled against the Blackhawks in his career going 4-5-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .898 save % in 10 career starts.
In some breaking news this morning it was announced that Pavel Datsyuk had minor arthroscopic knee surgery today. He will miss tonight’s game and the next 2-3 weeks. I know I am not the only one that will not miss his talent and oddly shaped head on the ice tonight! This is a huge loss for the Wings and a break for the Blackhawks. Patrick Eaves is still out nursing a concussion and it is unsure if Dan Cleary will be forced to miss another game with a knee injury.
The Blackhawks got some bad news of their own on the injury front today when it was announced that captain Jonathan Toews will miss tonight’s game. He has the mysterious upper body injury that has been a huge pain in ass for the Hawks lately. Joel Quenneville said Toews is day to day but the injury is not related to the wrist that kept him out before the All Star break. Brendan Morrsion will be back in the lineup tonight. If there was ever a time for Morrison to step up and win over Hawks fans, tonight is that time!
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarrson participated in the Blackhawks’ morning skate this morning. He is not ready to play tonight but he is getting closer to a return. With the way the defense has stepped up the last couple of games Hjammer can take his time getting back. There has been no update on Steve Montador’s inury.
Corey Crawford gets his fourth straight start in net tonight. Hopefully he stays deep in the net, which has been working for him, and has helped lead to this 3 game winning streak the Hawks are on. Crow is 5-2-2 with a 2.02 GAA and .934 save % in 9 career starts against Detroit.
The game has lost some of its luster with 2 Hart candidates like Datsyuk and Toews out of action. But it is still Detroit versus Chicago. The UC will be rocking and it will feel like the playoffs! Can not wait to get there!