Blackhawks News

Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Need to Play Full Game vs San Jose Sharks

By Brian Kinkade

Nov 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates with the puck against San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (5) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the stink of the of disappointment of Friday’s loss to the Washington Capitals still lingering in the air, the Chicago Blackhawks should no doubt finish tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.  The Hawks should be looking to add to a winning streak, and they know it, but sadly they aren’t.  This disappointment should serve as solid motivation against the perennial Western Conference contenders, in the Sharks.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Sharks.

[table id=80 /]

This is a very even matchup, but the advantage would have to slightly go to the Hawks.  Much like the Hawks, the Sharks have put up solid numbers, but their win-loss record doesn’t really show it.  San Jose has been able to convert more scoring chances and has done a solid job of keeping pucks out of their net, while the Hawks have struggled converting scoring chances, but have been fantastic about keeping pucks out of their net.  When it comes to Special Teams, it is a bit of a yin-and-yang matchup.  The Sharks have an elite Power Play, while they will be matched up against the Hawks’ league-leading Penalty Kill.  The Hawks’ Power Play has been average, as has the Sharks’ Penalty Kill.  If the Hawks can somehow find an edge, on the man-advantage, they would have an unexpected advantage, tonight.  Where the Hawks true advantage lies, tonight, is in puck possession.  The Hawks have top-5 faceoff and Corsi For percentages, while the Sharks have been in the mid-league range.  If the Hawks can keep up their puck-smothering ways and play with the anger and motivation from Friday’s disappointing loss, they should be able to pull this one out.

The Sharks are currently sporting an 8-5-2 record, which is good for 18 points and 5th place in the Pacific Division.  San Jose is playing in Game #2 of a 7-game road-trip, tonight.  They kicked off the road-trip with a 5-3 victory of the Dallas Stars, last night.  This could be the start of a hot-steak for San Jose, as they have gone 6-2-2 on the road, this season, which is far superior to their 2-3 record on home-ice.  Logan Couture currently leads the Sharks in points, as he continues his ascension to top-dog in San Jose.  Brent Burns has put up a lot of points his return to the bluline, even with less than favorable zone-starts.  Speaking of the blueline, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is one of the most underrated defenseman in the NHL, and he is off to a great start to the season.  When one’s talking about the San Jose Sharks, one cannot forget to mention the usual suspects of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.  All three are off to solid starts to the season, even after the shakeup in leadership.

In net for the Sharks will likely be former-Hawk, Antti Niemi.  Niemi is starting to find his groove, after a slow-start, and has a very solid .918 Save Percentage, in 10 games this season.

The Hawks somehow have a 7-6-1 record, with 15 points, while they sit in 4th place, in the Central Division.  It feels like they should be much further down the standings ladder, but here we are.  With some of his most bizarre line mixings, Coach Q has moved Marian Hossa to the 3rd line along with Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith.  The 2nd line will now consist of Andrew Shaw centering Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell.  No word on how long he will stick with these lines, though.  Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will stay on the top-line, as they very unsurprisingly were very productive, when on the ice together.

In net for the Hawks will likely be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been spectacular with a .930% Save Percentage, this season.

San Jose has played extremely well on the road and the Hawks have been disappointing at home, so clearly we are doomed.  Kidding aside, the Hawks should come out fast and strong since they had plenty of time to think about Friday’s ugly loss.  Also, the Sharks played in Dallas, last night, so the Hawks would be wise to pounce on the Sharks, before they get dialed into the game.

Go Hawks!