Jan 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) misses a chance to score a goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during the first period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
It doesn’t seem to matter who it is, but whoever they are, they can shutout the Chicago Blackhawks. Things don’t get any easier tonight, as the Hawks head North to take on the Montreal Canadiens and their all-world goaltender, Carey Price. If it’s a challenge that the Hawks offense needs as a wake up call, then tonight’s the night.
You can watch tonight’s game on CSN-Chicago and you can listen to it on either WGN 720 AM or 87.7 FM The Game.
Here’s a statistical break-down of the Hawks and Canadiens.
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As you can see, statistically, the Hawks have the overall advantage in this one. When looking at stats, the Hawks haven’t been too bad at all, so far this season. However, it is weird to see them so anemic in the Goals For category. By controlling the puck, the Hawks are able to keep the puck out of their own net, but somehow they are absolutely perplexed when it comes to putting it in opponent’s nets. Montreal has struggled in 5-on-5 play, but have been very good on the Penalty Kill. On the other half of the special teams, the Canadiens are struggling on the Power Play. If the stats continue to be true, don’t expect much to happen on Special Teams tonight.
Both teams are elite in the Faceoff dot. With the Hawks, it’s basically two players, Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger, that are the reason for the team’s success at the dot. Meanwhile, the Canadiens have had more depth of success from Manny Malhotra’s insane 63.4% success rate, while David Desharnais has also been great. Here’s the thing, the Hawks are able to keep the puck, and the “Habs” seem to struggle with keeping it. Both the Hawks and Habs have elite faceoff numbers, but only the Hawks have elite puck possession numbers. In fact Montreal is in the bottom third of the league in Corsi For percentage. This game will have to come down to getting good 5-on-5 looks against Carey Price, if they Hawks want to win.
The Canadiens, even without stats on their side, are currently in 2nd place, in the Atlantic Division, with a record of 8-3-1, which is good for 17 points on the season. Montreal is coming off of a disappointing home-ice blow-out, at the hands of the Calgary Flames, on Sunday. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec currently lead Montreal in points. P.K Subban is the one to watch out for. One of the best offensive defensemen, in the NHL, and he also plays a solid defensive game. P.A Parenteau has been a solid acquisition, and while he only has 5 points, he has created chances, in the offensive zone, for the Habs.
In net, as mentioned before, will likely be Carey Price. So far, this season, Price hasn’t totally been his show-stopping self, with a meager .913 Save Percentage. However, there is a chance Price could be given the night off, since the Canadiens play tomorrow night, in Buffalo. If that happens, backup goaltender, Dustin Tokarski, will get the start in net. Keep in mind that backup goaltender haven’t exactly been kind to the Hawks lately.
The Hawks need to get back on track, or at least score a goal. Currently, the Hawks mired in 5th place, in the Central Division, with a 6-5-1 record and 13 points. Now, that’s not terrible at all, but with the Hawks’ high expectations, it just sort of feels terrible. The most important thing to remember is that it’s still early and adversity is guaranteed to happen more than a few times during an 82-game season.
If the Hawks are to get back on track, it has to start with Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw. Kane has only 2 points in his last 5 games, which isn’t awful for an average NHL player, it is below what is expected of Kane. He’s not out there for his defensive play, he’s out there to make plays. The last couple of games have seen a chirpier and angrier Kane. He knows what he needs to do, and once he breaks through, look out, because he’s going to go on a tear. As for Shaw, he needs to win faceoffs, which he has been working on, and he also needs to get in front of the net to create traffic. The Hawks have been piling shots on top of shots, now they need to complement that with 2nd-chance shots that are created with traffic in front of the net. This is where Shaw needs to come in. The other member of the line that was so potent during the Western Conference Finals, Brandon Saad, has only 1 point, and is a minus 2 in his last 5 games. Again, adversity happens, and adversity breeds success, so it’s only a matter of time for Saad. Although, sooner is better than later.
In net, for the Hawks will more than likely be Corey Crawford. Crawford, a Montreal native, has stellar .926 Save Percentage, in 6 games played, this season.
Whenever the Hawks have reached their frustration boiling point, they should find their way back to the win-column. Will it be tonight?