After a solid effort in their 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night, the Chicago Blackhawks look to keep the winning ways going tonight, as they host Steven Stamkos and the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
This is a matchup of two teams who have been playing almost opposite styles thus far. The Lightning are a much more offensive team that capitalizes on their scoring chances. They're tops in the league with an eye-popping 3.87 goals for per game, thanks in large part to their 10.58 SH% at 5v5. That has them 5th in 5v5 PDO, in spite of just a 91.32 save percentage (21st in NHL).
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have been playing much more defensive hockey, as they are 1st in the NHL in goals against, allowing just 1.87 goals per game. They're 8th in the NHL with a 93.88 SV% at 5v5. Going up against the fast-paced, high powered offense of Tampa Bay, they may just need to have their best defensive game of the season.
The best offensive team in the NHL against the best defensive team in a possible Stanley Cup Final preview (knock on wood). Something's gotta give, the Blackhawks just have to make sure it's Tampa's offense.
Opponent Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning
Again, the Lightning come in with the best record in the East, and are tied with Anaheim for the most points in the NHL at 23. And while they're offense has been the key factor in that, their defense hasn't been horrible, as they're 14th in the NHL in goals against per game, at 2.67. Given that goalie Ben Bishop was a Vezina Trophy finalist last year, they could probably be much better, but when you score as much as they do, it's hard to complain about defense.
Tampa Bay is also a great possession team, as they rank 5th in the NHL in 5v5 CF% at 53.47. This certainly plays a major role in their offensive dominance. With the Blackhawks being having the highest CF% in the NHL, it's clear that Tampa Bay is going to need to push hard in all aspects of the game in order to get the puck as much as they need to in order to score the way they have.
The Blackhawks are still without Patrick Sharp and Daniel Carcillo.
The Lightning are without top defenseman Victor Hedman, who is out with a finger fracture. They're also without forwards Brett Connolly and Alex Killorn.
|'HAWKS VS. LIGHTNING LINEUPS
|Corey Crawford||G||Ben Bishop|
| ALSO SEE: RAW CHARGE, SBN'S LIGHTNING BLOG
When: 7:30p.m. CT
Where: United Center
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(Statistics via NHL.com and War on Ice)