Jan 14, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Brad Malone (42) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) go for the puck during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks will be facing off against the Colorado Avalanche, a divisional rival, at the United Center tonight in hopes of picking up key points to help stay atop of the Central Division. The Blackhawks have done a great job vs. the Avalanche in their previous two meetings this season beating them 3-2 and 5-2 behind amazing play by Patrick Kane and the Hawks. I would like to take a look and predict the Chicago Blackhawks 3 keys to stopping the Avalanche ahead of the game.
Get a stick on Jarome Iginla
So far this season Jarome Iginla has proved that he still is a threat on the ice regardless of his age. Through 39 games played he has tallied 10 goals and 15 assists and ranks among the top of the team in points. If the Chicago Blackhawks can get a stick or body on him tonight it will greatly reduce the opportunities for him to tally a point. In the Blackhawks first meeting against the Avalanche Nov. 26 they were able to do so and held him to 1 shot and 0 points. Then again on Dec. 27 when they met they held him to 2 shots with 0 points. Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks top scorer on the other hand had 8 total shots and 6 points during the same two games. Shutting out one of the Avalanches key players definitely had a direct effect on the outcome of the game both times.
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Make Varlamov pay
Semyon Varlamov will make his 5th straight start in goal against the Blackhawks who faced rookie goaltender Calvin Pickard in each of their first two meetings this season. Varlamov was very stingy last year against the Blackhawks posting a 4-0-0 record and 1.59 GAA but he hasn’t flashed the pad like that this year. So far this season Semyon Varlamov has instead posted a 7-8-5 record with 2.93 GAA and a .911 SV%. The Blackhawks need to send bodies to the front of the net along with pucks so that they can make Varlamov pay for his inconsistency this season. Blackhawks have the home ice advantage winning 12 of their last 13 so fans and players alike should get in his head and make him pay. I would start with Shaw and end with Bickell for the 1-2 punch.