For some reason that isn't all that clear - the Blackhawks have had some trouble finding the back of the net when skating 5-on-5. I guess it's good news then that the goalie with a 1.82 GAA and .938 SV% will primarily be concerned with opening and closing the door to the bench tonight. As per Kuc's report from earlier today - Ryan Miller is getting the night off in favor of Patrick Lalime who will face his former teammates. This squad has very little in common from the 07-08 season though when Daydream Nation were rookies and Andrei Zyuzin and Sergie Samsonov actually suited up for a combined 55 games (and 9 points).
Lalime hasn't had a great time since leaving Chicago - he's only played in 27 games and in his 3 games this year has a .836 SV% on a Sabres team that has been surprisingly strong. They're only one point behind Boston for the lead spot in the Northeast despite having played two fewer games. Miller obviously has a lot to do with that since the Sabres are 20th overall in Goals/Game. Like the Hawks, they have no players with a double-digit total in goals (Kane, VERSTEEG! or Buff could change that though if they get one in tonight).
There's three other stories going into this game though, two of them are getting plenty of press so far so I won't bother them much other than to mention that yes, this is Patrick Kane's first game in Buffalo since he and his cousin let out their wrath on a cabbie over a few missing dimes. Will Buffalo turn on their favorite son over this incident? Maybe now that he's signed to Chicago for 5 more years thereby ending their dreams of him playing for his hometown squad they won't treat him quite so fondly.
As Blackhawk Up points out too - this is also Brian Campbell's first game back in The Queen City (I just learned that's Buffalo's nickname). I'm not sure what the feeling is in Buffalo, but if it's anything like the ridiculousness in San Jose - Campbell is going to be hearing a lot off boos again tonight. In an odd way, I do hope Buffalo ends up booing Kane and Campbell. Those two hold onto the puck for so long that any moron booing will pass out by the second when they forget to inhale.
Finally - there's the small matter of Drew Stafford. Last year, Stafford delivered a big hit to Duncan Keith which kept him off the ice for two weeks (and could possibly explain his less than stellar post season). The hit on Keith was legal but questionable. I don't think it was overly dirty but in the game against Pitt we saw Keith take exception to another hard hit and take some revenge. It'd be shocking to see Keith go out of his way to run Stafford but I wouldn't put it past someone like Eager who got out of the penalty box and immediately went after Stafford after the hit.
With Miller out this is a very winnable game for the Blackhawks. If the Hawks play anything like they did against the Rangers it shouldn't be too hard as Lalime is a far cry from Lundqvist in everything except for an alphabetical roll call but we here at SCH have an uncanny ability to call someone out only to have them play the game of their career.
Lets Go Hawks