Nov 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) skates with the puck against Edmonton Oilers left wing David Perron (57) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks look to continue building off of a big victory, over the Vancouver Canucks, against a team that they should beat, but have had a very hard time with, in the Edmonton Oilers.
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As you can see, the Oilers are a solid offensive team, and even an exceptionally good team, when it comes to special teams, it’s just their defense that has them consistently in the losing column. You’d think that with a team that scores goals as frequently, as the Blackhawks, they would just blowout the Oilers, but that’s rarely the case. It can’t be forgotten that Edmonton, loaded up with several of the lasy few year’s 1st overall draft picks, have some serious offensive fire-power, and with a team as defensively inconsistent as the Hawks, it often means trouble, for the heavily-favored Hawks.
The Oilers, who are buried in last place, in the Pacific Division, are on a solid hot-streak, where they have won 3 games in a row, which is their longest wining streak of the season. As with every team searching for an identity, a matchup against the defending Stanley Cup Champions serves as a great test, but then again, the Oilers usually play the Blackhawks very well. Edmonton is lead by (when healthy) Taylor Hall, who has found himself consistently on a point-per game pace. Jordan Eberle currently leading the team in points, and newly acquired, David Perron, is off to a fantastic start to the season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is always one to keep an eye on, as well, but offense has never been the issue, with Edmonton.
Nugent-Hopkins, and Hall still have developing to do when it comes to plating in their own zone, and it doesn’t help that the Oilers have had a hard time finding consistent goaltending. It’s hard to say if poor defensive play, or inconsistent goaltending is the bigger culprit, in Edmonton’s struggles, but regardless, Devyn Dubnyk is having a rough season, overall, but he has played great, as of late to coincide with the Oiler’s current winning streak. Coincidence?
The Blackhawks are entering game 4 of the 7 game Circus Trip, tonight, in Edmonton. Currently, the Blackhawks have a record of 2-1, and will look to sweep in Alberta(tonight in Edmonton, and Wednesday night, in Calgary) to secure an over .500 Circus Trip, which would be something to be proud of. One game at a time, though. The Hawks completed the perfect road victory, over Vancouver, and are looking to keep it rolling, throughout the trip. Patrick Kane will be looking to increase his points streak to 11 games, tonight, as he continues his excellent 2013-2014 campaign. The win in Vancouver came from 2 goals in 9 second, from Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger, which perfectly exemplifies this team’s depth that most teams are not able to contain, which may be extra important, if Marian Hossa is not able to play, tonight.
It will be interesting to see who starts in net tonight, for the Hawks. Corey Crawford has been good, but he has been over worked quite a bit, and rookie Antti Raanta is looking for his first NHL start. Tonight would be a perfect night for it to happen, for Raanta, but at this point you can’t really be surprised if Head Coach, Joel Quenneville sticks with Crawford. Although, it’s probably time to let the kid play, and past due time to give Crawford a break.
Everything basically favors the Blackhawks, in this matchup, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the Oilers found a way to win, tonight. The Oilers have the potential to shred the Hawks’ in their own zone, while the Hawks have even more potential to shred the Oilers, in their own zone. This is always an interesting matchup, and it should be a good game.