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Chicago Blackhawks to Conclude Regular Season with Colorado Avalanche

By Brian Kinkade
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The playoffs are almost here!  That’s all that truly matters.  Slumps won’t matter anymore and it playoff hockey will be back!  However, the Chicago Blackhawks have one more game to get through.  Tonight, they face the Colorado Avalanche and there is still playoff seeding at stake.

This is the 5th game of the 5-game season series between the Hawks and Avalanche.  So far, the Hawks and Avs have split the season series at 2 games apiece.  Tonight’s game will be played out in Denver and puck drop is set for 8:00 PM Central Time.  The game can be seen on WGN-Chicago and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

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

[table id=149 /]

Offensively, the Hawks are a below average team but will be facing an Avalanche defense that is near the bottom of the league.

Defensively, the Hawks are still elite and tonight they will be tasked with shutting down a lackluster Colorado offense.

On the Power Play, the Hawks are bad and they will be up against an elite Avs Penalty Kill.

For the Hawks, their Penalty Kill was once elite but has fallen off a bit recently but tonight they face the Avs’ 2nd worst Power Play in the league.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks are fantastic and will be taking draws against a Colorado team that has been a bit above average at taking draws.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are great and tonight they will be fighting for the puck against an Avalanche team that is one of the worst at possessing the puck.

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On paper, the Hawks have the clear advantage.  The question is: will they show up?  Where has the offense gone?  When will it be back?  Okay, that’s a few questions, but still.  Colorado is always a tough opponent for the Hawks for whatever reason.  Whatever happens, just remember that the playoffs are right around the corner.

The Avs are 38-31-12 with 88 points, which has them in last place in the Central Division.  It’s crazy to think that this time last year the Avs were leading the Central.  Hockey is a weird sport.

Gabriel Landeskog leads the Avalanche in points with 58 on the season.  However, he is one of 6 players on the Avalanche who have at least 52 points.  Jarome Iginla, Tyson Barrie, Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene and Alex Tanguay are those other 5 players which make up the majority of Colorado’s well spread but inconsistent offense.  Nathan MacKinnon is likely looking forward to putting his nightmare sophomore season behind him.

Starting in net for the Avalanche will likely be Semyon Varlamov.  Varlamov has had a fine season with a .921 Save Percentage in 56 games played.  In 13 career games against the Hawks, Varlamov has a ridiculously sparkling .946 Save Percentage with 2 shutouts.

The Hawks are 48-27-6 with 102 points, which has them in 3rd place in the Central Division.  They will not be able to finish above 3rd place, but they could be overtaken by the Minnesota Wild and fall to 4th place and have to settle for a Wild Card berth.

If the Hawks win tonight, they will open to playoffs on the road against the Nashville Predators.  If the Hawks lose tonight, and the Wild defeat the St. Louis Blues(who will most certainly be resting their regular players), the Hawks will open the post-season on the road against the Anaheim Ducks.  We shall see.

It remains to be seen what Coach Q rolls out as his lineup tonight.  Jonathan Toews is on a 3-game pointless streak.  Marian Hossa is on a 2-game pointless streak of his own.  Are these guys just waiting for the playoffs to start?  Let’s hope so.

Starting in net for the Hawks will either be Corey Crawford or Scott Darling.  It wouldn’t be a surprise if Q were to give Crawford a bit of rest before the playoffs.

We’re almost there.  After tonight’s game we will know who the Hawk’s will be preparing to face in the 1st round.  We’re almost there!

Go Hawks!

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