Gotta love these Original Six matchups.

The last time the ‘Hawks faced the Rangers they were on a 9 game losing streak and starting straight into the abyss. They marched into Madison Square Garden and put 4 goals up in the first 10 minutes of the game – including a penalty shot goal by Jonathan Toews just over a minute into the game. Tonight, they will face the Rangers after a horribly dispiriting 5-1 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday. In that game, the Blackhawks went 0-5 on the PP and couldn’t even manage a single shot on 3 of them. It was awful and you are a true fan if you managed to stay with that game through the end. But not everything is fucked right now. The ‘Hawks have won 3 out of their last 4 including impressive road wins in Ottawa and Detroit.

Tonight, Niklas Hjalmarrson will return to the lineup after what seems like an eternity hanging out in the dark room where Steve Montador and Toews still reside. Ray Emery will get the start in goal. While I was not impressed with his performance on Tuesday night in St. Louis, his career record of 6-1-0 with a 1.44 Goals Against Average and 2 shutouts. Not too bad. The Rangers play dump and chase hockey and will be extremely agressive on the forecheck. Watch for Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen to be under assault all night long. One would imagine the Blackhawk lines will be the same as they were Tuesday as Quenneville really doesn’t have many options at this point.

Meanwhile, the Rangers come into the game 1st in the Eastern Conference with 91 points. That’s 6 points ahead of the Penguins, who currently sit in 4th place. Seems fair, right?  Anyway, it all starts in net for the Rangers with Henrik Lundqvist. . The ‘Hawks lucked out a few weeks ago in New York by facing Martin Biron. No such luck tonight as King Henrik will start. He leads the league in SV% (.937) and shutouts (8).  The Hawks will have to get as many shots as possible tonight – which means playing a puck possession game. That is no easy task when your facing a team that has Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov. But it won’t impossible either, while the Rangers have a solid defense (Michael Del Zotto, Mark Staal and Dan Girardi come to mind), it isn’t exactly spectacular and if guys like Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane come out with a purpose the ‘Hawks should get plenty of chances.

The Rangers certainly have a bunch of talent – but they also employ the worst player in the NHL, John Scott. Some of you going to the game tonight will unfortunately sit near some idiot who loudly insists that Scott made the ‘Hawks a better team with this ‘tougness’ and ‘willingness to drop the gloves.’ Being an intelligent hockey fan, you will have the urge to physically assault some of these people. Resist it. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that this could very well be the last game at United Center that John Scott ever plays. He is a free agent after the season and it’s quite possible that his next stop will be in the minors- because he sucks at hockey. He isn’t playing any more minutes in New York than he was here and it appears Rangers fans have already figured what he brings to the table – NOTHING.

That being said, we have reached the homestretch of the season. The Hawks have 14 games left. Starting tonight we face the Rangers, Kings, Blues (twice) Stars, Predators (twice) Blue Jackets, Canucks, Capitals, Devils, Wild (twice) and Red Wings.  As you can see, with the exception of the Blue Jackets, there are no easy games left for the Blackhawks this season. Points are at a premium as we trail the Predators (who have a game in hand) by 6 points  and other teams are nipping at your feet. We’re going to learn a lot about this Blackhawks team between tonight and April 7th.

Go ‘Hawks.