Apr 26, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) moves the puck against Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman (26) during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Flames 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a while. After 3 days off, the Chicago Blackhawks return to action when the Calgary Flames visit the United Center for the first of three meetings between the two teams. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Central Time and you can catch the game on CSN Chicago and you can listen to the game on WGN 720 AM as well as 87.7 FM The Game. Last season, the Flames took two of their three games against the Blackhawks.
The Flames are coming off of a 3-2 shootout victory last night in Nashville, against the Predators. It was the Flames’ best performance of the very young season. After 4 games, the Flames are 2-2-0 on the season. Calgary is in the midst of a rebuild where it figures to build around young talent such as: Sean Monahan and John Gaudreau, amongst others. Gaudreau hasn’t had as much playing time as a highly-touted building block expects to get. Instead, the Flames have been giving more ice-time to more to enforcer types like former-Hawk Brandon Bollig. This figures to eventually change, as it started to last night in Nashville. Mikael Backlund has only one point in four games, but he has been a factor all over the ice. The Flames have potential, but they will need to put it on the ice to realize it.
In net for the Flames will be former Anaheim Duck, Jonas Hiller. Hiller had the night off last night, and figures to get the majority of the playing time, as he was Calgary’s marquis offseason acquisition.
The Blackhawks have been so far, so good after recording the maximum of 4 points after their first 2 games. Patrick Sharp has recorded 13 shots so far this season. He has recorded two Power Play goals, thus far as he lives up to his his “Sharp-Shooter” moniker. Also with two goals after two games is reigning Norris Trophy winner, Duncan Keith. Known for his slow offensive starts, Jonathan Toews has left little to complain about as he has recorded 2 assists, so far. The 2nd line consisting of Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad looked like it’s effective self in Saturday’s 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Offseason acquisition Brad Richards is off to a slow start, which is understandable figuring that he has to adjust to life in Chicago, with new linemates, and he also welcomed a new baby to the world. Give him time, he’ll be fine.
In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford. Coach Q said that Crawford will get a lot of starts early on with games so spaced out on the schedule. So far, Crawford has been phenomenal this season.
The fact that the Flames are coming off a long, hard-fought win last night could favor or hurt the Hawks. The excitement of the win breeds momentum. At the same time, the win was a shootout win, in Nashville, and it was just last night. Fatigue could be a factor, but likely not a huge one this early in the season. If the Flames end up giving more ice-time to their goon-type players, it should be music to the Hawks’ ears. The more the enforcer style players play, the more likely the speed-skilled Hawks will skate around them and put up big points.