Game 41 Preview And Open Thread: Blackhawks vs. Wings

Puck Drop: Jan. 6, 6:00 PM CST

Chicago Blackhawks
Record: 19-18-3
Points: 41
Place: 5th in Central, 13th in Western Conference
Power Play Percentage/Rank: 17.7%, 16th in NHL
Penalty Kill Percentage/Rank: 82.7%, 15th in NHL
Blackhawks Team Statistics


Detroit Red Wings
Record: 31-8-3
Points: 65
Place: 1st in Central, 1st in Western Conference
Power Play Percentage/Rank: 23.1%, 2nd in NHL
Penalty Kill Percentage/Rank: 86.3%, 5th in NHL
Wings Team Statistics

After battling hard but still falling short in Anaheim on Friday night by a score of 2-1 (a game in which I'd give the SCH Hawks Player Of The Game Award to Patrick Sharp for picking up his 21st goal of the year), the Hawks are at home tonight to face the Red Wings in front of a sold-out United Center crowd. Tonight's game will be televised on CSN.

Troy Brouwer has been brought up from Rockford, with Petri Kontiola going back down. I like this move, Kontiola does look like a keeper to me, but I think Brouwer has good size and can play a physical game while also having some ability to put the puck in the net.

There's a chance we may be seeing some Hawks back from injured reserve. Denis Savard was apparently a bit mum on the subject this morning, but the Chicago Tribune reports that Martin Havlat will be a game-time decision, and also this interesting tidbit:

Hawks head coach Denis Savard was coy about Havlat's and possibly others' returns tonight, but when asked if any of his walking wounded could be in the lineup against the Wings, he said: "There's a possibility. We'll make a decision at game time. A bunch of them. It will be a surprise."

The article later states that players like Wisniewski, Williams and Sopel are unlikely to return tonight, but maybe the "surprise" is that one of them are actually able to go tonight. It would be a nice boost to have Havlat and someone else back in the lineup for this one.

Hawks are 4-0 this year against Detroit, but it's going to be a very hard battle to try and make it a fifth win against the Wings tonight. The Wings are playing at an unbelievably high level right now and it's tough to beat them on any night. Chicago needs to get off to a quick start because they cannot afford to fall behind with a diminished offensive attack right now.

UPDATE: Martin Havlat is playing tonight, per the official site. Finally, good news on the injury front.