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
The Chicago Blackhawks will finish up the back end of back-to-back games, tonight as they head North of the border to face the Edmonton Oilers, after defeating the Minnesota Wild last night. The Oilers, having last played on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings should be well-rested.
This will be the 2nd game of the 3-game season series between the Hawks and Oilers. The Hawks won the first game, in a lopsided affair, by a score of 7-1. Puck drop is set for 8:30 PM Central Time. Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.
Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Oilers.
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Offensively, the Hawks have been practically elite this season, and they will take on Edmonton’s 2nd-to-worst in the league defensive unit. Defensively, the Hawks have been the best in the league all season and will be up against the Oilers’ near bottom-of-the-league offensive attack.
On the Power Play, the Hawks have overall been average, but have been much better as of late and will be facing an Edmonton Penalty Kill that is one of the worst in the league. For the Hawks, the Penalty Kill has been the best in the league and they will be tasked with killing the nearly-worst Power Play of the Oilers.
In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been very good, overall this season, and will be taking draws against an Edmonton squad that has been subpar at taking draws. In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are 2nd best in the league, overall, as evidenced by their Corsi For Percentage. They will be fighting for the puck against an Oilers team that can be considered bad at possessing the puck.
Obviously, on paper, the Hawks have a huge advantage. However, the Hawks can’t afford to play down to their opponent, because that’s when upsets happen. This is the NHL, afterall, and there is so much parity that any team can beat any other team on any given night, even in the most lopsided matchups, like the Hawks and Oilers. Edmonton has enough raw talent to makes teams pay, so the Hawks will need to ne aware of this, which I’m sure they will be.
The Oilers are currently in last place in the Pacific Division with a record of 9-23-9, which is good for 27 points on the season, which is a whopping 31 points behind the division leading Anaheim Ducks. As mentioned before, the Oilers have lots of raw talent, that actually isn’t really that raw anymore. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are all elite talents that know how to light the lamp on a nightly basis. The problem is that the Oilers lack scoring depth. Those three players are all great players, but it takes more than that to be contenders in this league.
In net for the Oilers will likely be Ben Scrivens. Scrivens is having a dismal season, with a .898 Save Percentage in 31 games played.
The Hawks are currently sitting in 2nd place in the Central Division with a record of 27-12-2 which give them 56 points on the season, which is 2 behind the division leading Nashville Predators. After the whole team went pointless while getting shutout by the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, Patrick Kane got right back at it, with his 20th goal of the season to go along with 2 assists, last night in Minnesota. Bryan Bickell scored 2 goals, last night, which gives him 4 in his last 5 games. Bickell joined Kane and center, Brad Richards, on the 2nd line, last night and it paid off huge, as Richards recorded 3 assists to go with a big night for he and his linemates.
In net for the Hawks will be Antti Raanta. Raanta will be starting in relief of Corey Crawford, who started last night. Raanta has played great this season with a .944 Save Percentage in 9 games played.
While everything about this matchup screams that the Hawks will win, 2 games in 2 nights is nothing to sneeze at. The Hawks are a team that every team in the league wants to beat and wants to beat them badly, especially a team struggling as much as the Oilers. Also nothing to sneeze at is 2 road wins in 2 nights. Let’s get it done!