Game #14 San Jose Sharks (4-3-3) vs Chicago Blackhawks (10-0-3)
Game Time- 7:30pm Central Time TV-NHL Network CSN-Chicago CSN-California
Season Series- Blackhawks beat the Sharks in San Jose on February 5th 5-3.
Preview- The Sharks have hit the skids since the Blackhawks last saw the Sharks 10 days ago. The biggest reason for the slide has been the lack of a power play (yes other teams struggle in this area too) The Sharks went from one of the best offenses to one struggling to find goals with only 11 goals in their last 8 games. Patrick Marleau has really struggled finding the back of the net with only one goal during the Sharks scoring draught. The last game between these two teams was an exciting game and usually these two teams put on an offensive show so it will be imperative for the Hawks not to give the Sharks big guns including Joe Thornton easy chances and to keep themselves out of the penalty box so that their slumping offense doesn’t get jump started.
The one player that hasn’t struggled for the Sharks has been Antti Niemi. The Stanley Cup Champion is still only giving up 1.74 GAA and a .934 save%. No matter how hot Niemi is the Hawks always seem to find a way to get pucks behind him.
The Hawks are playing their 2nd of 7 consecutive home games including their first of two consecutive home Friday night games against the Sharks. The Hawks will be starting Ray Emery in place of the injured Corey Crawford. Emery has looked solid in his last two starts and should get tested a lot tonight at the United Center. There isn’t too much to complain about after a 10-0-3 start but the power play still isn’t very effective which was extremely evident in the OT during the Ducks when the Hawks spent most of the 5 minute extra time on the power play and couldn’t muster a goal.
The Hawks are still in the running of best start without a regulation loss with the 84-85 Oilers at 12-0-3 and the 2006-2007 Ducks at 12-0-4. Both teams fast starts were cashed in with a Stanley Cup championship so this wouldn’t be a bad record to chase after.
Predicition- It seems like the Hawks usually have the Sharks number and if Emery gives a solid effort tonight the Hawks will take this one down 4-1.
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LET’S GO HAWKS!!!!