After a disappointing loss, in Montreal, the Chicago Blackhawks will get right back at it, tonight, as they look to get back on track, against the lowly Edmonton Oilers.[table “42” not found /]
The Blackhawks have a mighty edge, pretty much all around, in this game. Edmonton has really struggled, this season, while the Blackhawks have been one of the best team’s in the NHL. The only area, where the Oilers are superior to the Blackhawks, is the Penalty Kill, where both teams have not done well, but the Hawks have been a bit worse. The Hawks have one of the best offensive games, in the league, while the Oilers have allowed the most goals, in the league. This one could get ugly.
The Oilers are currently sitting in last place, in the Pacific Division, with a 15-27-5 record, good for 35 points. In their last 10 games, they have played ever so slightly better, to a modest tune of 4-4-2, and they even pulled off the mighty upset, over the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Friday. While the Oilers are a last place team, and seen as a disappointment, this season, they have very dangerous players that can score goals as well as anyone. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall are back-to-back 1st overall draft picks, from 2010 and 2011, respectively, and are big-time offensive threats. The Oilers’ 2012 1st overall pick, Nail Yakupov, is also an offensive threat, even though he has struggled, this season. Yakupov has played much better recently, and as a Team Russia Olympic snub, he could be one to watch out for.
In net, it will either be Ilya Bryzgalov or Devan Dubnyk. Bryzgalov was a midseason, free agent signing, and has played decent, in his 13 games played, especially when considering the poor defensive play, in front of him. Dubnyk has received the majority of the playing time, in net, and has struggled to a .895 Save Percentage.
The Blackhawks are technically back in 1st place, in the Central Division, with a 29-8-10 record, good for 68 points, however the St. Louis Blues are only behind by one point, and have played in 3 fewer games. The Hawks have hit a skid of poor play, recently, but have luckily been able to salvage some points out of their recent skid, with a 4-1-5 record, in their last 10 games. While Patrick Kane has set the world on fire, with his offensive production, he hasn’t played his best hockey, as of late, with some careless turnovers. Look for Kane to turn it around, and get back on track, tonight. Marian Hossa will be celebrating his 35th birthday, tonight, and scored the goal that sent the Hawks to overtime, in Montreal, last night, off of a beautiful pass, from captain Jonathan Toews. Perhaps these two, along with linemate Patrick Sharp are about to catch fire, to get the Hawks out of the skid. A player that is seemingly always on fire, especially this season, defenseman Duncan Keith, who looks to continue his 2013-2014 Norris Trophy tour.
In net figures to be rookie backup Antti Raanta, since Corey Crawford played last night. Raanta has played very well, this season, in his debut season, in North America, especially when filling in for Crawford, due to injury.
One team is a last place team that has been able to upset the NHL’s elite, this season, and the other is in fact an NHL elite team, that has not played it’s best hockey lately. Anything can happen.