In what is almost legitimately considered a skid, the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans feel like they are spiraling out of control, while this “skid” is extremely minor, in the grand scheme of things. To get back in the win column, the Blackhawks will have to beat, the cellar dweller, but improving Florida Panthers.[table “22” not found /]
Statistically, the Blackahawks are heavy favorites. Although, it is interesting that both the Blackhawks and Panthers are side by side in awfulness, in Penalty Killing and Save Percentage. It is also interesting to see that the Panthers are ranked 15th in the league, in Corsi For percentage. Perhaps the Corsi numbers were predictive of this recent streak of improved play, from the Panthers, and they truly aren’t as bad as their record says.
The Panthers are currently in 7th place, in the competitive Atlantic Division, far out of the playoff race, at this point. Although, the recent streak has the Panthers 5-4-1, in their last 10 games, and winners of 2 in a row. Perhaps, this 5-4-1 streak is representative of the true Panthers, and not the 7th place in the Atlantic ranking. Scottie Upshall leads the Panthers, in points. Former Hawk, Jimmy Hayes scored the game-winning goal, for the Panthers, in their last game, against Detroit. Tomas Fleischmann is typically Florida’s best offensive player, but he and the rest of his team, have struggled to find the net, but they have not struggled to generate opportunities. Another former Hawk, Dylan Olsen has put up 4 points, in 6 games, for the Panthers, since being traded, this season. Jonathan Huberdeau figures to be a star forward, in the NHL, for years to come, and is always a threat to opposing teams. Former Cup winner, with the Hawks, Brian Campbell is the veteran leader for the Panthers, from the blueline. In net for the Panthers is likely to be Tim Thomas, the former Stanley Cup Champion, with Boston. Thomas has just been okay, with Florida this season, which is likely the product of poor play in front of him, his age, and having to get reaquainted with the NHL, after taking a year off.
The Blackhawks’ recent struggles are really nothing to worry about, most likely, as long as they find a way to stop it as soon as possible, before it turns into something bigger. The only thing the Hawks’ Penalty Kill has killed, recently, is the Hawks’ chances at winning games. Patrick Kane continues his torrid start to the season, and if he keeps this up, he will have a career-year. Jonathan Toews is always contributing to this team, but he hasn’t been scoring a lot of points, recently. Kris Versteeg is likely looking forward to facing his former team, tonight. Corey Crawford figures to get the start in net, tonight, and he has played well, after getting rest, the few times that has actually happened, this season.
This is a perfect game for the Panthers to legitimize their recent improvements, with a win over the NHL’s top team, even though they haven’t played like it, in the past few games. A loss to the out of contention(at the moment) Panthers could seriously turn this “skid” into something more serious. It should be a good game!