Blackhawks News

Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Hang Around Alberta to take on Edmonton Oilers

By Brian Kinkade

Nov 25, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall (4) and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (88) battle for a loose puck during the second period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

In game number two of the six game circus trip, the Chicago Blackhawks look to make it three wins in a row as they take on the struggling Edmonton Oilers.

This is the first of the 3-game season series between the Hawks and Oilers.  Last season, the Hawks swept the 3-game season series, against the Oilers.  You can catch tonight’s game on WGN-Chicago, and you can listen to it on WGN 720 AM.

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

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Clearly, the advantage goes to the Hawks in this one, but the Oilers are not the slouches that they are made out to be.  The Hawks own the 13th best offense, in the NHL, and it’s climbing fast, which should continue, as they are matched up against the Oilers who had a very porous defense, so far.  Defensively, the Hawks are elite and the Oilers have been one of the worst offensive teams, thus far.  However, Edmonton is getting healthier, and more dangerous offensively.

Special Teams is a bit more of a contested matchup, between the Hawks and Oilers.  The Hawks’ Power Play has been mediocre and the the Oilers’ Penalty Kill has been, practically, equally mediocre.  A huge advantage goes to the Hawks with the Penalty Kill, as their man-down unit, has been the best in the league and it will be up against the Oilers’ nearly league worst Power Play.

Possession-wise, the Hawks also hold the advantage, but the Oilers are a much improved team, here.  The Hawks are winning faceoffs slightly more consistently, but the matchup at the dot is close to even.  CF% favors the Hawks, but the Oilers have been much better than their record shows.  Edmonton’s above-50 CF% says that their team has been hit with a bit of bad luck and should eventually see some improvement, as long as they keep playing the way they have.  It would be very foolish of the Hawks to look past the Oilers.

The Oilers are currently in last place, in the Pacific Division, with a 6-12-2 record, which is good for 14 points, in 20 games.  Edmonton should be an angry and hungry team, tonight, as they are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak after losing to the New Jersey Devils, at home, last night.  Edmonton has yet to win a game against a fellow Western Conference opponent, and currently hold an 0-9-1 record, against the West.  As mentioned earlier, the Oilers are getting healthier, as they recent welcomed Taylor Hall back to the lineup.  Fellow young-star/1st round draft pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins holds a share of the team-lead, in points, with Jordan Eberle.  

In net for the Oilers, will likely be Ben Scrivenswho was given the night off, last night.  Scrivens has struggled this season to a tune of a .895 Save Percentage.

The Hawks are looking for their first 3-game winning streak of the season, and can get it tonight.  Currently, The Hawks are sitting in 3rd place, in the Central Division, with a 11-7-1 record, which is good for 23 points in 19 games played.  2011 1st round draft pick(26th overall) of the Hawks, Phillip Danault will make his NHL-debut, tonight.  In 14 games, with Rockford of the AHL, Danault has 10 points in 14 games.  Speaking of debuts, defenseman Adam Clendening scored his first career NHL goal in his NHL-debut, Thursday night, against the Calgary Flames.  Patrick Kane is on fire with 7 points in his last 5 games, which now has him tied for the team-lead, with Jonathan Toews at 16 points apiece.

In net for the Hawks will be Antti Raanta.  Raanta will be giving Corey Crawford a much deserved night off, as he will be back in net tomorrow night, against the Vancouver Cancuks.  It’s been nearly a month since Raanta saw NHL action, but in only 3 games this season, Raanta has a great .933 Save Percentage.

While the Oilers are seemingly plummeting and the Hawks are getting hot, this could very well be a tricky game.  Edmonton has always been a tough opponent, for the Hawks, no matter what the bottom-line results say.  The Hawks should win as long as they can avoid looking past the frustrated and under-achieving Oilers.

Go Hawks!