Return to Cookie Mountain: Blackhawks @ Lanche - Preview, Game Thread, Flea Market

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Game Time:  8:00 PM Central
TV/Radio:  Rodeo Channel/WIND-AM 560
Still harboring hatred for snow blowers: Mile High Hockey

It has been a hell of a long time since we've seen the Blackhawks skate against the Lanche.. and time hasn't been too kind to them.  The Hawks played Colorado three times in just about a month to open the season with all three games going to the shootout (Hawks won two of them).  This was also the time when the Lanche were playing far beyond where they should have been.  They were last overall in the West in the '08-'09 season yet somehow were challenging Vancouver for the top spot in the Northwest for a good part of the year. 

Time has caught up with the young team though.  Since the Olympic break they've gone 8-9-2, had a 4 game losing streak and fallen to the bottom rung in the playoff picture.  Still a remarkable turnaround but not quite as impressive as before.  The leader in the Rockies this year has been Park Ridge native, Craig Anderson.  Playing his first year as a true #1 goalie, Anderson has basically put the Avs on his back for most of the year.  The Avs allow 32.0 shots against per game (6th worst in the league) while taking only 27.8 (2nd lowest) so they haven't exactly been helping out their goalie.  I can't find the numbers.. but I remember their shooting % being a tad high for a while.. though now it's down to about 9%.  I may be wrong about that however... which wouldn't be the first time.

Anderson may be running out of steam though, he's had a SV% below .900 in 5 of his last 8 games.  None of that really matters though - Jesse Rogers is saying that we'll be seeing Peter Budaj between the pipes tonight.  Budaj has only started 10 games this year but has put up good numbers when he gets the chance...  except for his last game on Wednesday when he gave up 5 goals in an OT loss to the Oilers. Matt Duchene has also been a welcome sight to the Avs.  Puck Daddy has a good quick article on him where coach Joe Sacco recommends him for the Calder.  Duchene is the real deal but has no points, only 4 shots and is a -2 in the three games against the Blackhawks this year.  He's gotten better as the season has gone on though - so watch for him to break that trend tonight if the Hawks aren't careful with him.

Twitter is full of other interesting info today - Kuc is saying that Hossa is questionable for tonight's game but was out on the ice.  Both Kuc and Rogers are saying it looks like Antti Niemi will get yet another start for the Hawks tonight as well.  Rogers also writes that Kopecky is back on the ice but that Brouwer is still with his family.  I haven't heard anything about what is going on with Brouwer but we hope it's nothing serious. If Hossa can't make it - Bickell will be replacing him in the line up.  With all that real reporting being done on Twitter - you may wonder what we had to add earlier today... enjoy.

With the Sharks victory over the Canucks yesterday (and man were the Nucks a bunch of asshats in that one), the Sharks now hold the top spot in the West.  Another two points tonight keeps the Hawks tied up and if the Hawks do manage to take the number one seed - their likely opponent in the first round will be these Colorado Avalanche.  So this could be a statement setting season ender... or it could be two teams likely just going through the motions.  We'll just have to wait and see I suppose.

Lets Go Hawks

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