Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Seek 13th Consecutive Victory

By Mike Brennan
Jan 19, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) is congratulated after he scores a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) is congratulated after he scores a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Chicago Blackhawks will be heading in to Tampa Bay tonight for a 2015 Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Lightning. While the Blackhawks extended their win streak to 12 games on Tuesday night against the Predators, the Lightning have a modest win streak going, having won six straight. In the standings, the Lighting sit second in their division with 54 points behind the surprise of the season, the Florida Panthers. This will be the second meeting of these two teams this season. Back in October, the ‘Hawks beat the Lightning 1-0 in overtime. Let’s get into the preview.

The first thing that jumps off the page for this Lightning team is that it is extremely balanced all the way around its lineup. The Lightning can go three lines deep with their offensive production, even having Valtteri Filppula on the third line. Filppula is fifth on the team in scoring for forwards with 22 points on six goals. All together, the third line has 49 points through 46 games. If you look at the ‘Hawks’ third line this season, they have 34 points with players who have not played all season. The line for the Lightning has been together all season, and has been putting up points all season. That is a dangerous commodity for a team, being able to rely on its third line like that.

More from Blackhawk Up

As for the rest of the Lightning offense this season, there is really not one player who is running away with production. For example, the leading scorer on the team is Nikita Kucherov with 39 points on 19 goals. The next player is Steven Stamkos with 37 points on 20 goals, and the two do not even play on the same line. After that, there are five players in the 20s in point totals. The offense also ranks 11th in the league with 125 goals through 46 games. They are also an above-average possession team with 52.2 percent Corsi on the season. Through their six-game win streak however, they have outscored their opponents 24-13. In their last win against the Oilers, they had six different players score a goal. So the strategy of shutting one player down will not do the ‘Hawks any good.

On the back end for the Lightning, you will once again find balance. They do not play the style of defense the Predators do, in that their defensemen are not worried about generating offense. They get back and rack up assists by pushing the puck up and getting the puck out of dangerous zones and on to the tape of offensive players. Victor Hedman is the leading defensive scorer for the Lightning with 25 points on 22 assists. He and his pair mate, Anton Stralman, contribute about six defensive point shares, which is pretty much just the estimate of the amount of points each player contributes, due to their defensive play. And six point shares for a defensive pairing is just above the league average. So this tells us that they are blocking shots, and not allowing players to step up and get shots in the first place.

More from Blackhawks News

In net for the Lightning, they have Ben Bishop. He is having a career year with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. As of late, he has only let up three goals in his past three games, one of those games being a shutout.

As for the men in red, they are coming off of a huge win in Nashville that put their historic win streak to 12 games. They had offense from Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik and Andrew Desjardins. Through this win streak, the Blackhawks have not faced teams at the top of their division very much, so this game against the Lightning will be a great test for them. Patrick Kane has been on fire with eight points in his last three games.

A big reason for the ‘Hawks surge has been Corey Crawford in net. Through this win streak, he has let up 17 goals through nine games, and his save percentage was only below .919 once through those nine games. It is amazing what he is doing considering the defense that is in front of him, and the fact that he has faced about 30 shots in every game during the win streak.

Puck drops at 6:30 local time and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet and can be heard on WGN 720-AM. Go ‘Hawks!

facebooktwitterreddit