Jan 2, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) controls the puck in front of Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during the third period of a game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Anytime a team trades away a vital member championship team it is always a bit emotional. It’s also always a mixture of awkard emotion when that team goes up against that player once they face that player and his new team. Such is the case tonight, as the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks will face their former puck-moving defenseman, Nick Leddy, and the much-improved New York Islanders.
This is the first game of the two game season series between the Hawks and Islanders. Puck drop is set for 6:00 PM Central Time. 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 Isles’.
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Offensively, the Hawks have a good matchup, as their 5th best offensive attack is up against the Islanders’ struggling defensive game. Defensively, the Hawks are an elite team, and will have a tough task tonight as they are up against New York’s near-elite offensive unit.
On the Power Play, the Hawks are below average and will have to figure it out against the Isles’ average Penalty Kill. For the Hawks’ Penalty Killing unit, they are the best in the league and will be up against the respectably solid Islanders’ Power Play.
In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks and Islanders are both at least very good. However, the Islanders are one of the worst teams in the faceoff circle and they will up against the Hawks, who are very good at winning faceoffs. In terms of purely positive puck-possession, the Islanders are somehow one of the better teams in the league, even though they hardly ever start play with the puck. They will have a tough test against the elite at puck possession Blackhawks team. If the Islanders could solve their faceoff struggles, they could be a scary team. The Hawks have the statistical advantage, but there’s plenty to fear about the Islanders.
The Islanders are currently sitting in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division, with a record of 19-10-0, which is good for 38 points on the season. New York is returning home to face the Hawks after losing 3 in a row on the road. The top line of John Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin and Kyle Okposo is one of the best in the league. With 26 points, each, Tavares and Okposo lead the team in points. 2nd line center, Brock Nelson, is next on the points list with 24 on the season. The aformentioned Leddy, has 14 points and a +7 rating, this season.
In net for the Islanders will be former-Blue, Jaroslav Halak. This season, Halak has been good with a .916 Save Percentage.
The Hawks are looking to make it 9 wins in a row, tonight. Currently, the Hawks are in 1st place in the Central Division, with a slim 1-point lead over both the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues. The Hawks got a big relief as they learned that Jonathan Toews will indeed suit-up and play tonight, after taking a big hit on Thursday, against the Boston Bruins. Any extended period of time without Toews could really hurt the Hawks, and the fact that he isn’t missing any games, right now, is a huge sigh of relief. The 2nd line of Brad Richards, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane continues to propel the Hawks offense through this current hot-streak.
In net for the Hawks will once again be rookie, Scott Darling. Darling has been great to a tune of a .939 Save Percentage in 6 games played this season.
Hopefully the Hawks can continue to play their game, and if they can do so, they should be able to take down the Islanders. However, the Islanders will be more than motivated tonight, as there will be no better way to prove that they are serious contenders than beating the Hawks.