Game Time: 7:30 PM
Even Colder Than Chicago: The Copper & Blue
Tonight marks the second the Blackhawks will take on the Oilers this season. The first time they met the Hawks skated away with a 6-3 victory. There are reports that the Hawks did travel to Alberta sometime in mid-November but there isn't any evidence that they actually showed up to play any games while they were there.
The Oilers started this season red-hot, with a 8-2-2 record, but that wave didn't last too long and they've come plummeting back down to earth. After their 6-game win streak ended on November 5th, they've only managed to win back-to-back games one time. The losses have been piling on for the young team and they're now directly in the middle of a 7-game road trip where they have yet to gain a single point.
There are plenty of reasons for the Oilers current woes. They're still a remarkably young team that shows plenty of signs they could be dangerous but just haven't figured it all out yet. They've also still got Ben Eager on their squad who seems to have regressed into full on stupid mode lately. He took two roughing calls against the Islanders on New Year's Eve which of course led to two power play goals. Then for good measure Ben took an unsportsmanlike conduct and threw in a misconduct for kicks.
Perhaps the real reason for the Oilers struggles though has been the rash of injuries the team is facing. Cam Barker, Taylor Fedun and Alex Plante are all on IR and they're all defensemen. Alternate captain and their leading defensemen Ryan Whitney has also missed their last few games with an ankle injury and will probably miss tonight as well. Andy Sutton hasn't been doing the team any favors either and has only played 7 games in the last two months, due mostly to suspensions. Nikolai Khabibulin, who will get the start tonight for the Oil, is having a decent year with a .924 Sv% but hasn't really been the type of goalie to steal games for the youngsters in front of him.
Up front, the Oil are being led by their kids. Jordan Eberle leads the team with 39 points with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins not far behind with 35. Old man Ryan Smyth rounds out the top three with 30 points.. about 28 of which I'm sure are all very annoying.
For the Hawks - it's definitely Corey Crawford's net again as he'll get his fifth start in a row. Crawford hasn't given up more than 2 goals since returning to the net but you can credit the team in front of him nearly as much as you can give him credit for finding his game again. He's can look a little shaky at times but he's also made the saves he needs to and the team in front of him is limiting chances. All welcome sights. Marcus Kruger is out once again with the dreaded upper body injury and Steve Montador is questionable. Monty has enjoyed a few "maintenance days" instead of practicing lately which likely means he's nursing some sort of nagging injury but no one is talking about what the real problem could be. If he can't go tonight, I'm sure we'll see Sami Lepisto come in for the rescue..haha.. who am I kidding? It'll be John Scott. Whoa.. word on Twitter is I'm right on both counts - Scott and Sami are your third pair for tonight.
Also - We're happy to announce another road watch party for this Thursday's game. It's no surprise where - join us at The Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake Street, to watch the Hawks take on the Flyers. It's a 6:00 start so it should be perfect for all those working in the loop to kill a few hours before heading home. And if you don't work in the loop.. join us anyway. Hope to see you all there.
Let's Go Hawks