Tonight's match up is going to be all about goalies. If you're sick of the arguments going back and forth on who should be the #1 or whether the Hawks did the right thing by letting Nikolai Khabibulin walk... well then I suggest you scroll down a little bit more til we get to some other stats. For right now though, lets talk some more about goalies.
First up, there's this contradictory story from the Trib today. Right off the headline, we get something odd - "Former Chicago Blackhawks goalie off to good start". Good start? Obviously they didn't see this:
Now, Chris Kuc wrote the article but we have to wonder why he let some editor put that headline on it. Especially since he points out the Khabby's numbers are pretty damn awful so far this year. Khabby's coming in with a 3.13 GAA and .890 SV%. Those aren't quite as horrible as Huet's 3.69 GAA and .831 SV% but neither goalie is in the top 30 for either stat.
Odd then that both teams are off to pretty hot starts. With identical 3-1-1 records, they also have 15 goals against while the Oilers have scored one more goal than the Hawks (20 compared to 19). However, as Fifth Feather pointed out today - the Hawks are also killing it in faceoffs, winning 56.4% of the draws which is good enough for 3rd overall. Then McClure pointed out the Hawks are 2nd in Shots For/Game and 1st overall in Shots Against/Game. Any goalie should be able to win with this team - as long as someone (aka Barker) doesn't cough up the puck and give opposing forwards a clear shot 8 feet out.
Here I had originally written a bunch of shit about why we should not worry about Huet starting tonight and looked at his split stats against the Oilers (summary - small sample size, but they're really good). Then Kuc broke the news that Niemi is starting tonight. So thanks for that..
This is hardly going to be a cakewalk for Niemi. The Oilers just put up 6 against the Predators on Monday night and drove Pekka Rinne from the game. They're also 3rd overall in goals per game at 3.8. They don't shoot a lot though so if the Hawks can play the tight defensive game we've seen then Niemi stands a good shot at getting another win and this insanely annoying debate continuing. If the Hawks play the sloppy defensive game we've also seen, then Niemi is fucked. So good luck Antti... Go nuts in the comments
Lets Go Hawks