Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Seeking First Homestand Victory as they Host New Jersey Devils


Dec 23, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

It certainly could be much worse, but so far the 8-game mutation of a homestand is off to a disappointing start.  Yes, it’s very nice that the Chicago Blackhawks have been able to earn 1 point in each of the first 2 games of the homestand, but we as Hawks fans expect more.  The “more” that I’m referring to should come tonight as the lowly New Jersey Devils come to Chicago.

This will be the 2nd and final game of the 2-game season series between the Hawks and Devils.  In the only other matchup, which took place in New Jersey, the Hawks won 3-2 in the shootout.  Puck drop is set for 7:30 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 Devils.

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Offensively, the Hawks are one of the better teams in the NHL and will be taking on the average defense of the Devils.

Defensively, the Hawks are in the elite class and will be assigned with preventing the Devils’ near-the-bottom of the league offensive attack.

On the Power Play, the Hawks are slightly above middling and will be up against a New Jersey Penalty Kill that is one of the worst in the league.

For the Hawks, their Penalty Kill is the best in the league and they will be tasked with shutting down a very solid Devils’ Power Play.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been ver successful and tonight they will be taking draws against  New Jersey squad that has been one of the least successful teams at taking faceoffs.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are in the elite class and will be fighting for the puck with a Devils team that is overall bad at possessing the puck.

Clearly, the Hawks have a big advantage here tonight.  So, if the Hawks can’t pull off a win in regulation, we might have a problem.

The Devils have a 21-24-9 record and 51 points, which is 12 points out of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.  The playoffs are all but officially out the window for the Devils and they will likely be moving players at the trade deadline.

Jaromir Jagr leads the Devils in points with 29 in 50 games played.  It’s always enjoyable to watch Jagr play.  He’s one of the greatest to ever play the game and always brings out nostalgic feelings in those that got to know him through his awesomeness on the Sega Genesis.  Next up in points is Adam Henrique, who is part of the younger core of the Devils.  Most of the Devils’ roster is made up of veterans like: Mike Cammalleri, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, Marek Zidlicky and former-Hawk Marty Havlat to name a few.  With the team struggleling mightily, any of these players could be gone by the deadline.

One constant of success this season has been tonight;s starting netminder, Cory Schneider.  Schneider has been a work horse and has quietly been outstanding with a .923 Save Percentage in 46 games played.

The Hawks and their 33-18-4 record with 70 points has them 6 points behind the 2nd place St. Louis Blues(who inexplicably beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by 3 goals, IN TAMPA!) and now a whopping 10 points behind the 1st place Nashville Predators.  Not looking good, but there’s still plenty of homestand left to make things intersting and sooner rather than later.

Patrick Kane now leads the league in points and has been an absolute treat to watch this season.  Speaking of treats, Marian Hossa treated the Hawks’ lousiness with 2 miraculous 3rd period goals against the Vancouver Canucks so that the Hawks were able to force overtime.  With 3 points in the first 2 games on the homestand, Jonathan Toews looks to be heating up.

In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been excellent overall this season with a .919 Save Percentage in 36 games played.  He has played far better than his Save Percentage suggests, although it’s a respectable one.

Again, this should be a win.  I don’t care if their just waiting for the playoffs to start, that’s ridiculously rude to the fans of the Hawks who need something to enjoy during the disgustingly cold winter.  Make us happy!

Go Hawks!