Blackhawks News

Game Preview: Red-Hot Chicago Blackhawks to Host Montreal Canadiens

By Brian Kinkade

Oct 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save on a shot from Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Seekers of their 5th straight victory, the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks are set to host fellow Original Sixers, the Montreal Canadiens, tonight, before they head back out onto the road for another extended road trip.

This will be the 2nd and final game of the 2-game season series between the Hawks and Candiens.  The Hawks won the 1st meeting, back on November 4th in Montreal, in blowout fashion by a score of 5-0.  You can catch tonight’s game on CSN-Chicago and you can listen to the game on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and “Habs”.

[table id=92 /]

Clearly, the Hawks have advantage in this one.  Right now, the Hawks are rolling the 7th best offense, in the NHL and up against Montreal’s very solid defensive unit.  Defensively, the Hawks are the best in the league, and will have an easier matchup in the Canadiens’ not-so-great offensive attack.

On Special Teams, the matchup is a bit tighter.  The Hawks’ Power Play has been near, but below average due to it’s inconsistency, and will be up against the Habs’ top-10 Penalty Killing unit.  However, the Hawks boast the league’s top Penalty Killing unit and will be tasked with killing the Habs’ lackluster Power Play unit.

In terms of possession, the Hawks hold the advantage, but it gets a little interesting here.  Montreal has been the most successful team in the faceoff circle, so far this season and they will be up against the Hawks’ near-the-top of the league faceoff winning skills.  Weirdly, the Canadiens are slightly below average in Corsi For Percentage, which means they aren’t great at keeping and moving the puck.  The Hawks, however, are good at keeping and driving the puck, as evidenced by their 2nd best in the league CF%.

The Canadiens are currently 17-8-2, which is good for 36 points and 2nd place in the Atlantic Division.  When one thinks the modern Habs, one thinks of superstar defenseman, PK Subban.  As of now, Subban isn’t totally destroying the leauge, but he is an absolute offensive weapon, on the blueline, especially on the Power Play.  Max Pacioretty leads the team in points, and has 12 goals, in 27 games this season.  20-year old center, Alex Galchenyukis riding a 4-game point streak and could be in the midst of what will be a breakout season.  Center, Lars Elleris one of the most underrated of the Habs’ forwards.  Eller only has 11 points on the season, but he is routinely up against opponents’ toughest lines and more often than not starting his shifts in the defensive zone and yet he has some of the highest positive possession numbers, on the team.

In net will likely be be Carey Pricefor the Habs.  Price, is one of the top goaltenders in the league, and is having a good season, so far, with a .922 Save Percentage in 21 games played.

The Hawks are flying high and now hold a 16-8-1 record, which is good for 33 points and 3rd place in the Central Division.  The wind beneath the high-flying Hawks’ wings has undoubtedly been the line of Brad Richards, Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg.  While this line has been lighting the lamp at a ridiculous pace, the top-line of Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saadand Marian Hossa has been shutting down opponents’ top-lines and leaving most of the offense for the Richards/Kane/Versteeg line.  Both lines deserve equal credit for the team’s recent hot-streak.  Not nearly enough can be said about how Marcus Kruger has played this season.  While starting nearly all of his shifts in the defensive zone, Kruger somehow has some of the higher positive puck possession numbers, among Hawks’ forwards.  He’s also one of the Hawks’ top penalty killers and it would be hard to imagine the Hawks being nearly as successful without him.

In net for the Hawks will be Antti Raanta.  Raanta recorded 39 saves on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues, and will be the Hawks’ primary goaltender for the next few weeks, while Corey Crawford is out with a lower-body injury.

Hopefully the Hawks can keep the momentum going before the hit the road again, after tonight’s game.  Everything is going the Hawks’ way, at the moment, and one figures it will have to stop eventually, but still, the Hawks are only in 3rd place and there’s lots of work still to be done.

Go Hawks!