It’s almost hard to believe but there are only 3 weeks left in this shortened season. The nice thing is that it will be a stress free three weeks with a playoff birth already clinched, all the remains is how much home ice advantage the Hawks will have when the playoffs begin and how healthy they will be at that time.
The week starts in Minnesota on NBCSN. The Wild and Hawks have split there appearances so far this week. The Wild ended their three game losing streak with a win Sunday night in Columbus. Niklas Backstrom got the shut out and looks to carry over the good play at home where he put the first blemish on the Hawks record earlier this year. Zach Parise has not disappointed after signing the big contract and leads the Wild in goals with 15. This will be a new division rival come next season, and the Wild are only 2 points behind first place Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the Northwest Division.
Friday night brings a close to the Blackhawks and Red Wings as division foes when the Red Wings visit the United Center. The Red Wings are currently 3rd in the division and sit 8th in the conference playoff seeding. The Red Wings were shut out by the St Louis Blues on Sunday and scoring really has been their weakness most of the season. The realignment ends the most played rivalry so this game may mean more for the fans in the United Center than the guys on the ice although the Red Wings will need the points to secure a playoff spot. The big news is the Red Wings were granted (again) the Winter Classic for 2014 as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Big House.
The week of games ends with a NBC Sunday afternoon contest in St Louis. The Blues chirped and hit their ways to a 4-3 OT shootout win in Chicago this past week. The Blues got a really ugly goal for a 1-0 victory against the Red Wings to pass them in the standings on Sunday. The Blues are second in the Central Division but sit 7th in the Conference currently so like Detroit every point is crucial. The Blues have added defense at the trade deadline and they will be looking for them to step up against the Hawks offensive stars. The play of last week was Ray Emery mocking Barret Jackman Thurday night so expect a lot of chippy play Sunday afternoon. Since Jaroslav Halak was injured Brian Elliott has been solid in net during their current four game winning streak.
The playoffs are secured, but don’t look for the Hawks to let off the gas pedal! What is your prediction for the Hawks this week?
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