Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Face Boston Bruins in What’s Supposed to be Battle of NHL Elite


Jan 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) moves the puck in front of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

“Supposed to” certainly hasn’t come to fruition lately.  The Chicago Blackhawks were supposed to go all gangbusters on this 8-game homestand and launch themselves into 1st place in the Central Division.  Instead, the Hawks are a modest 2-1-3 so far on the trip.  The Hawks were supposed to easily take down the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.  Instead, the Avalanche embarrassed the Hawks.  The Boston Bruins were supposed to run away with the Atlantic Division.  Instead, they are not even sure if they’ll be in the playoffs, this spring.

Something’s got to give, as the Hawks and Bruins essentially fall into each other, today.

This will be the 2nd and final matchup of the 2-game season series between the Hawks and Bruins.  The Hawks won the first game, in Boston on December 11th, by a score of 3-2.  Today’s game, in Chicago, will be set for 2:30 PM Central Time.  The game can be seen on NBC as well as NBCSN.  Today’s game can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Bruins.

[table id=128 /]

Offensively, the Hawks are very good, but supposed to be better.  Today, they will be up against a Bruins defense that is also very good.

Defensively, the Hawks are elite and today they will face a Bruins’ offense that is vastly underperforming and actually pretty bad, this season.

On the Power Play, the Hawks are average and today they will face a solid Bruins’ Penalty Kill.

For the Hawks, the Penalty Kill has been elite(just ignore the last game) and today they will be up against a Boston Power Play that has been quite powerless, this season.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been very good but today they will be taking draws against a Bruins team that is even better in the dot.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are very good and today they will battle against a Bruins team that is also very good at possessing the puck, as evidenced by their respective SAT Percentages(formerly known as Corsi For Percentage).

On paper, the obvious advantage goes to the Hawks.  The Bruins’ disappointing struggles should put the Hawks’ struggles in perspective.  However, this should be a very close game.  Boston excels in enough areas to win today’s game and they are even more desperate than the Hawks.  Should be interesting.

The Bruins are 28-21-9, which is good for 65 points, 4th place in the Atlantic Division and a slim 1-point lead over the Florida Panthers for the 2nd and final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Patrice Bergeron leads Boston in points with 39 in 57 games played.  Boston isn’t really a team that has one big point producer, but along with Bergeron, there are typically several more players producing at similar rates, but this season that isn’t happening.  Brad Marchand has a 3-game point streak going.  Carl Soderberg could be emerging as a more serious offensive threat, but he is without a point in his last 6 games.  18-year old rookie winger, David Pastrnak has 4 points in his last 6 games and is an interesting player overall.  The Bruins will be without center, David Krejciwho was injured in Friday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Starting in net for the Bruins will be Tuukka Rask.  Rask, the defending Vezina Trophy winner, is having a solid season as Boston’s workhorse with a .919 Save Percentage in 49 games played.

The Hawks are 35-19-5 with 75 points, which is good for 3rd place in the Central Division.  They are currently 5 points behind the 2nd place St. Louis Blues and 10 points behind the 1st place Nashville Predators.

Patrick Kane is now 2nd in the NHL in points and has gone pointless in his last 3 games.  Speaking of going pointless, Patrick Sharp has gone pointless in his last 7 and has only 1 point in his last 9 games.  Things aren’t all bad for the Hawks, as Kris Versteeg now has 3 goals in 5 games since returning from injury.  After a stretch of 5 points in 4 games, Jonathan Toews is without a point in 2 straight.

Starting in net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Despite some shakiness against Colorado, Crawford has had a fine season, with a .921 Save Percentage in 40 games played this season.

While things in Chicago aren’t as bad as they are in Boston, they aren’t as good as they should be either.  The Hawks’ sloppy homestand combined with the Bruins’ desperation is an ominous recipe, for the Hawks.  However, the Hawks have a knack for waking up and playing great after a bad loss, or against a quality opponent, which Boston is.  Hopefully the Hawks don’t judge them by their recent play, otherwise we could be in for a long afternoon.

Go Hawks!