7:30 PM United Center Chicago, IL
TV: Comcast Sports Net Chicago
Radio: 720 AM WGN
The New York Rangers come to the United Center tonight for Dave Bolland bobblehead night. This is a rare rematch with an Eastern Conference team. The Blackhawks ended their horrible 9 game losing streak with a 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden on February 16th. The Blackhawks scored 4 goals in the first 10 minutes of that game, including a penalty shot conversion by Jonathan Toews.
The Rangers will be coming in looking for revenge. They should be unbeatable after adding the great locker presence of John Scott. For those of you wondering which Blackhawk is going to fight Scott, stop yourselves. No one is going to take on Scott. Not even Brandon Bollig is crazy enough to do that.
The Rangers come into tonight’s game losers of their last two games, inlcuding last night in Ottawa. One huge difference from the first meeting is that Henrik Lundqvist will be starting for the Rangers tonight, not Marty Biron. Lundqvist has got to be in consideration for the Venzina Trophy with a very impressive line of 31-13-5, .937 save %, and a 1.84 goals against average. Only the St. Louis Blues have given up less goals than the Rangers this season. Brandon Dubinsky missed last night’s game and is doubtful for tonight.
The Rangers power play stinks, ranked 29th by converting just 14% of their chances. As bad as they are on the power play they have the 5th ranked penalty kill unit, killing off 86.8 % of their penalties. If you can only have one half of your special teams working I would rather have a top PK than a high scoring power play. As we all know, the Blackhawks have neither.
Ray Emery will get the start in net for the Blackhawks tonight. Niklas Hjalmarrson will return to the lineup after missing 13 of the last 14 games with a concussion. Hopefully he can stay in the lineup so he can help relieve Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook of some minutes. He will be paired with Dylan Olsen. Sami Lepisto is out with a leg injury he suffered in St Louis on Tuesday. According to Q, Lepisto will be out for a “bit” which means we will never see him again.
Jonathan Toews admitted today that he has been suffering from a concussion which is no surprise. He has been skating the last two days and says he is feeling better. I do not like that he was playing after suffering the initial concussion. The Blackhawks need to be smart with how they handle Toews from here on out. He is far too valuable to this franchise to risk any long term damage. If he isn’t 100% I don’t want to see him out there, even in the playoffs. The next 10 to 12 years are more important than one playoff run with a slightly above average team.