When: Saturday Oct. 5th at 7:00 p.m.
Where: @Chicago LIVE ON CSN-CH RADIO: WGN 720
Chicago Blackhawks 1-0-0 vs Tampa Bay Lightning 0-1-0
Since the 2010-2011 season, the Hawks haven’t beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning. The last time the Hawks faced off with the Lightning was November 4th 2011 where Tampa beat the Hawks 5-4 in OT. I remember the Hawks leaving Steven Stamkos open on the power play on multiple occasions leading, of course, to multiple goals, a hat trick to be exact. The Hawks PK looked fragile without Frolik, and the Lightning’s PP can be a threat with the combo of St Louis and Stamkos. The Blackhawks will need to play their structured brand of hockey if they want to ground the lightning.
The Blackhawks opened their season with a big win, taking down the Caps 6-4. The team seems focused on getting off to another strong start, and the offensive stats back that up. Twelve different Hawks picked up points in the win. The team depth seems to be as deep as ever, at least offensively. Brandon Saad is leading the team in points, which is not a bad way to start the season. Marian Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson are next up with two points each. The Hawks have Jimmy Hayes and Michal Handzus sitting for the game. Handuz sustained an injury against the caps, and Hayes will be substituted for Ben Smith. Nordstrom will need a very strong outing against the Lightning. Rumors are saying that he could be sent down if he doesn’t turn his game around. With the Hawks’ deep system, there is always someone ready to step up and produce for the team.
Tampa is coming off of a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. Valteri Filppula scored the lone tally for the Lightning. They went 0-5 on the power play in their loss, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of doing some damage. You can expect Stamkos and St Louis to come out hard to try and get on the point sheet after having goose eggs. In net, the Hawks could see the 6’6” Anders Linback, or 6’7” Ben Bishop. As of this writing, I haven’t seen anything officially announced yet on who’s starting for Tampa. While both goalies are giants, the Hawks will need to keep their focus on shutting down the Lightning’s dangerous offense. The loss of Vincent Lacavelier will be significant, but don’t think that makes the offense neutered; it’s far from it.
Prediction: Hawks win 4-2. With every team gunning for the champs, the Hawks will be feeling a bit of déjà vu, playing each game with every opponent trying to ruin the streak. We saw the Hawks persevere through the storm and set NHL records, and that experience will help them immensely this year. The solid two-way play of the Hawks will give Chicago the edge over Tampa.