Photo: AP

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak. After a humiliating loss to the Red Wings on Saturday, the Blackhawks get to suit up against yet another Western Conference rival on a hot streak in the form of San Jose. The new year has been good to the Sharks, with 6 wins and a shootout loss to their credit thus far.

In those six victories, they never allowed their opponents to tally more than twice. Defense is a big key to the Sharks’ game — they are 5th-best in the league in goals against. There is just one regular member of the Sharks roster who has a negative plus/minus. One. It’s Jason Demers, in case you’re interested.

But that’s not to say the Sharks have lost their once-potent offense. The usual one-two punch of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau is still as effective as ever, with the three-four punch combination of Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture close behind. Those four account for over 130 points of the Sharks’ offense. This is not a team that is prone to sitting back and protecting a lead.

San Jose also played on Saturday, a 2-1 win over Columbus, so both of these teams may prefer to spend the first period of tonight’s tilt taking a nap. But anyone who saw the Blackhawks’ meager effort in the Motor City Saturday afternoon might suggest that the team took a nap then also.

The 20 minutes of hockey that the Blackhawks played during the third period on Saturday will make them a tough opponent for San Jose, if they can put forth that level of energy and intensity for 60 minutes instead. The other 44 minutes against the Red Wings the team decided to think about why the tickets for the Kate Gosselin celebrity cruise are so exorbitantly priced instead of playing hockey, and that allowed Detroit (*spitting noise*) to escape with the win.

If the Blackhawks are going to finish strong in the Western Conference and continue into the playoffs, a full 60-minute effort is going to be required every single game. The members of this team had better get that through their heads, and start delivering. Today.

Administrative nonsense: The Sharks are without the services of defensemen Colin White and Jim Vandermeer, and also former Blackhawk Martin Havlat — however, if you are up for a good laugh, check out how Havlat hurt himself. For the Blackhawks, same lineup today, no changes to the injury status on Patrick Sharp. In goal we can expect Antti Niemi for San Jose, Ray Emery gets the start for Chicago.

6:00pm start for tonight’s game at the United Center. WGN has both the television and radio broadcasts; XM subscribers will find the game on channel 213; for Sirius Premiere customers it will be channel 212.

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