Game Preview: Blackhawks Vs. Oilers
Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center. Both teams are coming in on winning streaks and boast some of the most skilled forwards in the world. The Oilers have played well this week defeating the Penguins and Blues while scoring 9 goals over those two matchups. The Blackhawks are coming off their most impressive win of the early season, defeating the Florida Panthers 4-2 in a home tilt.
Early in the season, riding a four game winning streak, head coach Luke Richardson has shown fans an aggressive penalty kill and consistent forechecking that has led to the good early record. However, this is Edmonton and they have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. These are two of the best players in the world and will challenge and adjust to any system of defense the Hawks throw at them. More than any other game this one should truly tell the story on the outlook for this season.
Statistically the Hawks and Oilers have little in common in terms of skill players as the Oilers have four forwards better than a point per game while the Hawks only have Tyler Johnson (whom will miss tonight's matchup with an ankle injury per the Blackhawks offical site www.blackhawks.com) that has six points in as many matchups.
However, the Blackhawks are showing a balanced line structure as evidence by the last four game's numbers. The Hawks are a +7 and scoring 18 goals (4.5 goals per win average) over their 4 game win streak while the Oilers are +9 and scoring 20 goals (5 goals per win average) in their 4 wins this season. These stats over each teams wins tell me that while they are similar that the Oilers are winning by relying on their top 6 forwards while the Hawks have a more balanced 4-line team.
This will also put one of the best power play units against a completely dominant and aggresive Hawks PK (small sample size). The game against Florida saw the United Center faithful give the Hawks a standing ovation after successfully killing off 5 straight penalities. More than anything tonight I will be watching this matchup.
Both teams come in with 8 points and confidence from having undefeated weeks so far. Tonight I expect the arena to have it's largest crowd of the season and for this to be a battle! Coach Richardson has shown true structure and patience that has led to four straight wins. Can tonight make it our 5th in a row and our 10th point? We will find out tonight at the United Center.