Oct 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) is defended by Buffalo Sabres center Cody McCormick (8) and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Since the Olympic break, the Chicago Blackhawks have a record of 2-2-0. In that same time-span, the Buffalo Sabres are 4-2-0, including big wins over the Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, all high-quality teams. If the Blackhawks are to look past the Sabres, they could be in for a surprise and also some disappointment that could certainly lead to other problem, especially in the tight Central Division race.
Here’s how they matchup statistically
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Obviously the Blackhawks have a huge advantage. Most of the Sabres defensive stats are likely inflated a bit, due to the presence of the recently traded Ryan Miller. Although the stats are an indicator of what to expect, it is the NHL, and anything can happen, but it does look good for the Blackhawks, on paper.
The Sabres are currently in 8th place, in the Metropolitan Division, with a record of 19-36-8, good for 46 points. Buffalo is also currently in the midst of a painful rebuild, where it looks hazy, at the moment, but with all the recent trades, this season, the Sabres have managed to bring in 11 1st or 2nd round picks, over the next 3 years.
Buffalo also acquired former-Blue Chris Stewart, who will get a chance to lead, and show off his offensive upside, in Buffalo, as long as he can stay healthy. Cody Hodgson currently leads the Sabres, in points. Possibly on the shelf, with an injury, is gifted scorer, Zemgus Girgensons, who will be a threat, if he is able to play, tonight. Tyler Ennis is also a talented offensive threat, but he will eventually need a supporting cast, to show it off, but help should be on the way, soon, maybe not tonight, though. In the last 13 games, Drew Stafford has put up 12 points, and he will be one the Hawks need to watch, tonight.
In net figures to be Jonas Enroth, for the Sabres. In 24 games played, Enroth has put up an okay .911 save percentage.
The Blackhawks are needed 2 points, tonight, as they are currently in 2nd place, in the Central Division, 4 points behind the St. Louis Blues, who have a game in hand, on the Hawks, and only 1 point ahead of the 3rd place Colorado Avalanche.
Patrick Kane will be looking for a big showing, tonight, in front of his hometown crowd, tonight, in Buffalo. The captain, Jonathan Toews, will be looking to continue his torrid post-Olympic pace, tonight, and he will also be needed to keep the Hawks in check, so they don’t look past the Sabres, tonight. Brandon Saad has made the absence of Marian Hossa bearable, as he has played great, in an advanced role.
In net, will be Corey Crawford, once again, because apparently he doesn’t get days off, anymore. It’s somewhat understandable, though as Crawford has put up a very good .917 save percentage, in 46 games played, this season.
While on paper, it looks like an easy game, for the Blackhawks, there is no such thing as an easy game, in today’s NHL. The Hawks need to keep an eye on the standings, and if they are doing that, on a regular basis, they will realize that this game is far more important than many fans will realize.