Mar 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) battles for position with Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the third period in a Stadium Series hockey game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Face Pittsburgh Penguins in Star Studded Matchup

When one thinks of the NHL’s biggest stars, it is impossible to not think about the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Even while both teams are packed with star-power, neither team has been playing well, as of late.

Let’s see how they matchup.

Team
Goals For Per Game
Goals Against Per Game
Power Play Percentage
Penalty Kill Percentage
Faceoff Percentage
Corsi For Percentage
Blackhawks3.23(1st in NHL)2.51(11th in NHL)20.2%(7th in NHL)81.6%(18th in NHL)52.5%(4th in NHL)55.6%(2nd in NHL)
Penguins3.01(6th in NHL)2.46(10th in NHL)23.4%(2nd in NHL)85.4%(4th in NHL)51.1%(10th in NHL)49.6%(15th in NHL)

This game is about as evenly matched up as they come.  If an advantage is given, it would have to be to the Blackhawks, considering they play in the brutal Central Division, while the Penguins play in the rather soft Metropolitan Division.  Both teams are elite offensively, and very good defensively.  Pittsburgh has an advantage when it comes to Special Teams, but 5-on-5 Puck Possession is where the Hawks are going to have to exploit the Penguins, to find victory.

The Penguins long ago, clinched the Metropolitan Division and are trying to stay healthy and keep winning, leading up to the playoffs.  They’ve had a hard time with both.  Winning has been hard to do, for the Pens, lately, as they have a modest 7-7-2 record, since the Olympic break.  One must wonder if not playing truly meaningful hockey, in so long, is going to come back to haunting the Penguins.

Any team that employs Hart Trophy favorite, Sidney Crosbyis a dangerous team, to play against.  The Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letangand Pascal Dupuisso their roster has certainly seen better days.  James Nealwho has missed a lot of time, is finally healthy and returning to form.  The reaper of the benefits of playing on the same line as Crosby, Chris Kunitzhas had a great season as the less than glamorous role of being Robin, to Crosby’s Batman.  Rookie defenseman, Olli Maatta has been making a name for himself, and helped soften the blow, of losing Letang, on the blueline.

In net, for the Penguins will likely be Marc-Andre Fleury.  In his 58 starts, this season, Fleury has put up a very solid .917 Save Percentage.

The Blackhawks need to get back on track, and fast, as they are in danger of losing home-ice advantage, in the 1st round of the playoffs, to the Colorado Avalanche.  A big win against an elite NHL team, like the Penguins, will do wonders, in erasing the memories of the recent ugly losses.

Teuvo Teravainen will return to the Hawks’ lineup, tonight, after being a healthy scratch, against the Ottawa Senators.  The Hawks will once again be without  the services of Patrick KaneBryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival.  Like the Penguins, the Hawks are without some of their vital players, but also have plenty of star-power still on the ice.  Jonathan Toews has cooled off a bit, after coming out of the Olympic break, on-fire.  It would be wise to expect him to shake it off soon, as poor play bothers Toews like no one else.  On the other hand, known streaky scorer, Patrick Sharp, now leads the team, in points and appears to be starting one of his hot-streaks.

In net, for the Hawks, will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been great, this season, as he has put up a .918 Save Percentage, in 54 games played, this season.

Both teams are star-studded, from top to bottom, both teams are Stanley Cup contenders, both teams are dealing with big injuries, and both teams are struggling, on their already paved roads to the playoffs.  Something has to give.

Go Hawks!

 

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews Patrick Kane Preview Sidney Crosby Teuvo Teravainen

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