In 2 hours the Chicago Blackhawks will hit the ice in T-Mobile arena to face the Vegas Golden Knights on "Nevada Day". Having lost 3 straight and going up against the defending Stanley Cup Champions will be no easy task. Add in that the reigning champs are now 7-0 and have had rest inbetween a thrilling come from behind vicotry on Tuesday and today and it sounds like the "cards" are stacked against the visitors.
I think however that this week has been eye opening for Luke Richardson's club. Not only was the coaching staff critical of their effort of late, but it appears that practice has been geared towards physicality aspects of in-game situations. Yesterday there was a net front drill that saw Wyatt Kaiser level Connor Bedard down to the ice. My immediate reaction was, he already has Brad Marchand and the league's attention so he better be practicing how to handle these type of battles.
So how will today's matchup go? I, for one, will be watching 2 things: the lineup changes as well as the effort for a full 60 minutes. Certainly coach Bruce Cassidy will focus his defensive schemes to stop Connor Bedard and the top line, however if the Blackhawks are going to have a chance today it's going to be about fighting for net front positioning.
Vegas lives for rebounds, tips, and creating chaos close to a goalie. So can our 3 young blue liners limit those chances against an experienced Cup champion roster? Will our 3rd and 4th lines compete against one of the leagues best bottom 6 lineups?
Today will be a test for the Chicago Blackhawks. I'm focusing in on how our bottom 6 fairs in comparison to the Knights' bottom 6. I'm going to watch the effort of our 3 rookie defenders in terms of removing Vegas's forwards from getting net front presence. Lastly, I'll take notes on how any of the lineup combination changes have positive outcomes (chances or goals).
Let's go Hawks!