Nov 26, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) makes a stick save in the third period as Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) reaches from behind at the Pepsi Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Hopefully the Chicago Blackhawks got their much deserved rest on the holiday break and take their recharged selves to the Rocky Mountains and take two points from the Colorado Avalanche.
This will be the 2nd game of the 5-game season series between the Hawks and Avs. The Hawks were able to steal the 1st game, also in Denver, by peppering rookie goaltender, Calvin Pickard, with 45 shots on goal. Despite a hilarious shot differential, the Hawks were only able to squeak out a 3-2 victory off of Bryan Bickell’s game-winning goal.
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 Avalanche.
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Offensively, the Hawks look to be sitting pretty as they boast an elite attack and will be facing a not-so-great Colorado defensive game. Defensively is more of the same, but better for the Hawks. With the league’s top defensive game, the Hawks will be tasked with preventing the Avalanche and their near the bottom of the league offensive attack.
On the Power Play, the Hawks have been below average and will have the tough assignment of figuring out the very good Avalanche Penalty Kill. For the Hawks, on the Penalty Kill, they have been insanely good this season and will be facing the not-great, but improving Power Play of the Avs.
In the faceoff circle, the Hawks are nearly elite and will be taking draws with the below average faceoff takers of the Avalanche. In terms of positive puck-possession, the Hawks are the best in the league and will be fighting for the puck with the Avs who are 2nd to worst in the league in positive puck-possession numbers.
While the overall numbers indicate that the Hawks have a massive advantage, that isn’t really the case. Just look at the first game between these teams. The Avs are improving and have far too talented of a roster to be a team that puts up the numbers that they have put up this season.
The Avalanche are currently 13-13-8 with 34 points, which has them in 6th place in the Central Division. Before the break, the Avs were building some momentum as they are currently riding their first 3-game winning streak of the season, as well as a 6-game point streak. Veteran Alex Tanguay leads the Avs in points with 24 and has 5 points on the team’s current 3-game winning streak. Tanguay’s linemate and first-year Av, Jarome Iginla, is starting to heat up after a slow start to the season. All-world talent and reigning Calder Trophy winner, Nathan MacKinnon, is in a bit of a sophomore slump of a season. With only 5 goals in 34 games, MacKinnon is still a player to keep an eye one, especially after the holiday break, which will perhaps give him a a bit of a “reboot” to the season. Also not having his best season is Matt Duchene, who is also someone that the Hawks must keep an eye on and is vital for the Avs hopes to climb back into contention in the Central.
In net for Colorado will be the aforementioned Calvin Pickard, who had 43 saves in the only previous meeting between the Hawks and Avs this season.
The Hawks are leading the Central Division with a 23-10-2 which is good for 48 points. However, the Nashville Predators trail by only 2 points and also have 2 games in hand on the Hawks. The St. Louis Blues trail by only 3 points with 1 game in hand on the Hawks. There’s very little margin for error in the Central, this season. What Hawks fans should hope for is for the Hawks to pick up where they left off, as long as we are all considering the ugly loss to the Winnipeg Jets to be an anomaly. Patrick Kane can hopefully keep it going as he is lighting lamps at an inhuman pace. Kris Versteeg needs to continue his rekindled game which has been vital to propelling the Hawks to 1st place this season. Brad Richards did not make the trip to Denver unfortunately. Look for Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp to pick up their respective paces, starting tonight. Yes, the holiday break was only a few days, but since it was also a break from the grind in favor of time spent with families, every player is on the same page once they return to the team. Both Sharp and Hossa can benefit from this.
In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford. Despite being pulled from the Winnipeg game, Crawford has been very good with a .923 Save Percentage in 20 games played this season.
For the Hawks, you want this restart to the season to not disrupt what was happening before the holiday break. The Avalanche are hoping to stay hot and make the post-holiday portion of the season a polar opposite of the pre-holiday portion. Hawks vs Avs is always a good game and tonight should be no exception.