After dropping two in a row to the Avs and Oilers following their 24-game point streak to start the season, the Blackhawks won their last two games against Columbus and Dallas. Both games came on the road, and both games were the exact opposite of each other.
Following their bad loss to Edmonton at home, the Blackhawks pulled out another 1-goal victory over the Blue Jackets four nights later. The Blackhawks had numerous chances throughout the game (especially in the third period and overtime), but Columbus goalie Semyon Varlamov played fantastic in net and kept the game tied. The Hawks would eventually win in a shootout, thanks to Toews and Kane.
Their next game in Dallas was nothing like the game in Columbus. The Hawks scored 8 goals against the Stars and cruised to an 8-1 victory. It was literally like watching the Globetrotters against the Generals. The Blackhawks were scoring at will, and seemingly in which ever fashion they wanted to. This was by far their most dominating performance of the season.
Tonight, the Hawks are back in Denver where their 24-game streak ended about a week and a half ago. Since that game, Colorado has lost 3 of their last 4, while the Hawks have returned to their early-season ways.
Colorado has done a better job than anyone this season at matching the team speed of the Hawks. It will be interesting to see how the Avalanche approach this game tonight, compared to the last 2 that these teams played against each other. Obviously they will be trying to win, but I doubt that the Avs will come out with as much intensity as they did for the first two games between these teams. The Hawks are no longer unbeaten in regulation, which may lower Colorado’s intensity this time out, especially since the Avs already beat the Hawks. However, I could be wrong.
Tonight’s game between the Hawks and Avs is going to come down to goaltending. Ray Emery will get the nod for Chicago, and I would expect Varlamov to be in net again for Colorado. I doubt that the Hawks are going to give up another 6 goals to the Avalanche, and I also doubt that Colorado is going to hold the Hawks to just 2 goals again. Only time will tell…
As the trade deadline gets closer and closer (April 3rd), more and more rumors are beginning to surface around the league about possible trades. The common belief regarding the Hawks is that they will try to land either another center, and/or a big, physical player who can be effective on this team. Dave Bolland has done OK as the number 2 center this year, but I don’t think he is a true number 2. Brandon Bollig and Bryan Bickell are two big bodied forwards currently on the Hawks’ roster, but it would not be hard to upgrade from Bollig. Chris Neil from Ottawa is a name that continues to pop up in Blackhawks rumors. He is a big, physical forward who is not afraid to throw his weight around.
Game-time is in an hour. Let’s hope for a W.