While the Chicago Blackhawks have played very solid hockey, during the first 3 games of the 2013-2014 season, they have not achieved the type of results that they would like, nor have they achieved the type of results that accurately fit their quality of play. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks are 1-1-1 with 3 points, through the first 3 games, of the season. They will need a win tonight, against the 2-0-1(5 points) New York Islanders, to get things to headed in a positive direction.
The Islanders, are off to a very good start, as they are building off of a surprise appearance, in the 2013 post-season. They are trying to prove to the hockey world that they are for real, and not a flukey product of a lockout shortened season. So far, so good. The Isles’ are lead by young star, John Tavares, who is off to a hot start, who is the offensive fire-starter, for the team. The Islanders could very well be the next tea, to step-up to the ranks of annual contender, and a win against the Blackhawks will do wonders, for this young, up and coming team. While most of the team is young, talented, and on the rise, Evgeni Nabakov is the man in the crease, for New York, and he is nest described as old, talented, and on the decline. Nabakov is a very solid goaltender, in the twilight of his career. His age comes with declining skills, and injury proneness. Tonight however, the Hawks will face 23-year old Kevin Poulin, who will be making his 2013-2014 debut, for the Isles’. Tonight’s game will be a huge test for the inexperienced Poulin. Nabakov, Poulin and the lack of goaltending depth could be this promising team’s Achilles heel, this season.
The Blackhawks need to get back on track to avoid the early stages of what could be a slump, and with that comes the media circus of doubt, and the overuse of the phrase “Cup Hangover”. It’s still early, and the Hawks have played very solid hockey(with the exception of the atrocious Penalty Kill), but just haven’t collected the amount of points, that they’d like. Patrick Kane is off to a fast start, and looks eager to propel the Hawks to through the season. Unlike the Islanders, the Hawks have been tested early, as witnessed in Weednesday night’s tough loss to the rival St. Louis Blues, in a spirited, hard-fought battle that featured all-around quality hockey. Corey Crawford has had a very good start to the season, and is so far living up the the expectations that are following his big contract extension, but it looks like tonight, Nikolai Khabibulin will be getting the start in net, for the Hawks. Khabibulin, like Nabakov, is old, talented, and on the decline. The only difference is, Khabi’ is the backup goalie, not the main guy. Khabibulin will be making this debut on his second stint, with the Hawks tonight, in relief of Crawford.
The season is so young that to call the hockey we’ve seen thus far a sample size, would be an insult the the typical magnitude of a sample size. The Islanders are off to a fast start, and have a chips on their shoulders to prove themselves legitimate to the hockey world. While the Blackhawks are already proven, and are determined to get back in the column where the hockey world expects them to be.
It should be good game, at the United Center, tonight!