Game #17- San Jose Sharks (8-4-3) vs Chicago Blackhawks (13-0-3)
Game Time- 7:30Pm Central
TV-NHL Network, CSN-California, CSN-Chicago
Season Series- The Blackhawks lead 2-0. They won on February 5th in San Jose 5-3 and won at the United Center on Febuary 15th 4-1.
Preview- It’s Friday night in Chicago so it must mean another battle versus the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks after leaving Chicago with their collective tails between their legs last Friday night finally got off the old February goose egg with a come from behind victory in St Louis Tuesday night. Joe Thornton tied up the game and then Tim Kennedy put in a really soft goal for the game clincher late in the third. This will be the fifth of six straight road games for the Sharks whose defense has been extremely solid except when playing the Hawks. Antti Niemi has been superb putting up a .933 save percentage and giving up only 1.86 goals per game. The Sharks surprising deficiency has been the ability to put pucks in the net which was their true strength when they went undefeated in January. Lack of power play goals and Patrick Marleau cool down has been the recipie for less goal scoring. If the Sharks want to get a their winning streak to two they will have to light the lamp a lot against Ray Emery tonight.
The Hawks main concern is the growing injury bug although Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, and Corey Crawford all practiced yesterday and today, and it looks like Hossa and Seabrook will be on the ice tonight although we already know Ray Emery is in goal tonight. It does show how much depth is within the Hawks lineup that they keep winning now matter who is put into the mix. Ray Emery has been out of this world going 6-0-0 with a .925 save percentage. One thing that was glaring at the end of the Vancouver game was how easily Alexandre Burrows was able to camp out in front of Emery to screen the two tying goals by the Canucks. Going into the Sharks game it always seems no matter how good Niemi is playing the Hawks have his number. Patrick Kane has been quiet for a week now so I expect him to put on a show for the home crowd. Daniel Carcillo will be back in the lineup tonight and will join the 4th line with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik. My Twitterfeed was full of fans hoping that Carcillo will fight Thornton tonight but that seems extremely unlikely.
The main storyline going into tonight will be the Hawks attempt at 17 straight games to start the season without a regulation loss. The record would be sweet to have but in the end the only thing that truly matters is hoisting the Stanley Cup at the end of the season which the all the other teams on the list have done from the 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks to the 1984-1985 Edmonton Oilers. It’s not how you start the race but how you finish it!
Prediction Sure To Go Wrong- I nailed last Friday night’s prediction so here is this weeks. The Hawks make history with a 4-3 win in regulation with a Viktor Stalberg goal thrown in.
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