2013 Game Previews
As Adam wrote in his wrap Friday night, the streaks inside the streak get lost on us – and understandably so.
The Blackhawks will be going for a ninth straight victory for the first time since Dec. 7-28, 2008 – the year hockey was invented, according to some of the fanbase. It’s easy to forget this team has picked up two points in each game for as long as they have when The Streak simply focuses on gaining at least one.
And that’s one of my problems with the streak, as I’ve mentioned before. There’s so much more going on with this team than just that arbitrary streak. The stars are playing like stars, the bottom six is contributing more than anyone expected, and both goaltenders are thriving when their number is called.
Does it get better than this? Yes – by extending The Streak with a win over those douchenozzles up north (or northeast, as some have liked to point out).
And the beat goes on… Just 24 hours after shutting out Columbus and extending their points streak to 18 to open the lockout abbreviated campaign, the Blackhawks once again go to the ice at the United Center against a bottom 5 team in their conference. A game the Blackhawks would like to have prior to heading on to proper competition in St. Louis on Thursday. The Oil have been a bit of an up and down group, something you’d expect out of a young team like this. Tonight they’ll be without Taylor Hall after his indefensible knee dust up with Cal Clutterbuck. It’s the last game he’ll miss before returning to action.
Tonight, as you all know by now, the Blackhawks will attempt to set the NHL record for most consecutive games with at least a point *to start the season (edited to reflect reality). It’s cool factoid, yeah, but ultimately it means very little if a Cup doesn’t accompany it.
First, the Sharks. It’s been something of a strange season so far for this bunch. After starting out as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Sharks have cooled considerably. Just 1-4-3 in their last 8 games, the Sharks will look to recapture some of their earlier momentum and avoid a season sweep against a suddenly and unexpectedly healthy Blackhawks team.
San Jose plays some of the best defensive hockey in the league, but can’t seem to find the back of the net consistently. The Sharks rank 22nd in the NHL is goals scored, averaging just 2.5 goals per game.
The Sharks will roll with the following tonight:
No surprises on #SJSharks lines at a.m. skate: 12-19-8, 29-39-9, 57-26-46, 10-37-21. Sheppard, Gomez here, too.
— David Pollak (@PollakOnSharks) February 22, 2013
Catching up: Yes, Burish at 4th-line center with Desjardins on left wing; #SJSharks d-pairs were Boyle-Vlasic, Burns-Stuart, Murray-Demers.
— David Pollak (@PollakOnSharks) February 22, 2013
There is good news, fantastic news and awe-inspiringly splurgtastic news tonight for the home team.
The Chicago Blackhawks look to make history Tuesday night as they host the Vancouver Canucks. Should the Blackhawks win this game, they will tie the NHL record for the longest point streak to open a season. The current record of 16 games is held by the 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks.
All indications are that long-time Chicago laughing target Roberto Luongo will not get the start tonight. It appears we have bruised his ego enough for one career. Cory Schneider will get the nod tonight. Schneider has been one of the most up-and-down goalies in the league this season. His GAA’s over his seven starts are as follows: 11.27, 1.85, 0.00, 4.00, 1.00, 1.01, 4.08. A lot of this can be attributed to some absolutely embarrassing defensive play in front of him.
Look for a newly invigorated Vancouver team, enjoying the energy of a returning Ryan Kesler. Despite their OT loss against the Blues on Sunday, the Canucks have been playing high quality hockey lately.
As always, look for everyone’s favorite “tough guy” Kevin Bieksa to try some of his trademarked pathetic chirping and then cower by the refs once he gets the attention of one of the bigger guys.
Alex Burrows is still a tool.
Let’s start this out with a quick stat.
The Blackhawks’ 14-game point streak to begin a season is tied for the third longest in NHL history with the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens, behind only the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks (16) and 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers (15).
As for the other three teams mentioned? They all went on to win the Stanley Cup.
It’s been over two weeks since the Hawks have seen home ice and this will be the last time they don their white sweaters until the final day of February. Having already gathered 8 of 10 points on this road trip, the Blackhawks could come away with nothing in the Music City tonight and still consider this trip quite a success.
And that’s what worries me.
It’s been covered ad nauseum by beat writers and bloggers alike so I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on the topic du jour, Raffi Torres. He’s a fourth line player and comparatively we don’t spend a whole lot of our thoughts on Jamal Mayers anymore. Matt McClure wrote a thoughtful piece at The Committed Indian on retaliation and I’d encourage reading that if you’re so inclined. Otherwise, this will be the last I mention of #37 in burgundy and white.
Onto the actual hockey game being played in Glendale tonight.
Few things are more frustrating than watching the Blackhawks struggle to get one past Roberto Luongo, but such was the case last night.
On the bright side, the one that did get past him – Patrick Kane’s tally off a beautiful feed from Andrew Shaw in the third period – gave the ‘Hawks another standings point. Two straight shootout losses won’t blow anyone’s skirt up after six straight wins, but how many of you would complain if you were told the Blackhawks would be 6-0-2 after their first eight games?
Tonight, it’s onto Calgary to try and ended a four-game losing streak at the Saddledome and capture two points with Ray Emery in net. But first, some thoughts from Friday night’s game…
Go ahead and accuse me of looking past a team and jinxing the Blackhawks but I’m not buying it. The Columbus Blue Jackets, ever the doormat of the Central division, did little to improve their already pathetic hockey team during the lockout. Gone is Rick Nash to the Rangers in return for Brandon Dubinsky, who many wanted in an Indian Head during Chicago’s struggles to fill their gap on the second line down the middle. Dubinsky has yet to dent the scoresheet in four games in a Columbus uniform; in fact the two NHL ready players the Jackets received for Nash have a total of one point through the young season.
Make no mistake about it, the Blackhawks should walk out of Nationwide Arena today with two points and not think twice.