Blackhawks vs. Sharks game preview: Chicago seeks fast start against San Jose

With Chicago having trailed in every game of the Circus Trip so far, the veterans need to lead the way to a fast start tonight.

The Chicago Blackhawks begin the California portion of the Circus Trip on Wednesday when they visit the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.

Hockey can be a game of streaks and struggles, with teams finding their stride or losing their lead in a matter of seconds. For the Blackhawks, things have been more famine than feast as of late. Slow starts have plagued Chicago (13-5-2) since they took to the road last Tuesday, as the team has trailed by a combined tally of four goals to one in the first period. Of those four games, the Hawks have trailed after two periods of play in three of four contests.

While we predicted that Richard Panik’s hot start would fizzle away, we did not picture a scoreless run lasting this long. Panik has not scored in the last 14 games, nor has he registered a point in the last 10.  Other veterans that have been in multi-game scoring droughts are Patrick Kane (scoreless circus trip), Artem Anisimov (6 games) and Jonathan Toews (7 games). Duncan Keith and Kane led the scoring last season against the Sharks with a goal and two assists while Toews had two goals, including an overtime winner.

One bright spot in the Blackhawk offense is Marian Hossa, and rookies Vincent Hinostroza and Ryan Hartman. Hossa has scored eight goals in 10 games with two assists.  Hinostroza had a three-point night in last Saturday in Vancouver with a goal and two assists after leaving the Winnipeg game with a concussion. Enter Hartman, who notched two goals in two games against Calgary and Vancouver. Hinostroza moves into the top-line left wing spot along Toews and Hossa while Hartman is slated on the third line with fellow rookies Nick Schmaltz and Tyler Motte.

A major reason why the Hawks have won two games is due to the play of their goaltender Corey Crawford, who has seen the third most shots in the NHL and has nine wins to his credit.  With the exception of Monday night’s game against Edmonton, Crawford has been nothing but sensational.  Tonight’s opponent in San Jose (10-8-1) is not the best team at putting shots on target, but Crawford will be looking to bounce back after a sub-par outing against the Oilers.

The Sharks are coming off a 4-0 shutout win over New Jersey. San Jose has been a great team on defense, touting the third lowest goals against average (2.2) in the league, as well as the 3rd best penalty kill percentage (87.8%) in the NHL.  If Chicago does not find it’s offense, this could be a rough finish to a rough road trip.

For more on the San Jose Sharks, visit SBNation’s Fear the Fin.




Vincent Hinostroza - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman - Nick Schmaltz - Tyler Motte

Dennis Rasmussen - Marcus Kruger - Richard Panik


Duncan Keith - Brian Campbell

Michal Kempny - Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling - Niklas Hjalmarsson


Corey Crawford



Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Jooonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Matthew Nieto - Chris Tierney - Mikkel Boedker

Michael Haley - Tommy Wingels - Kevin Labanc


Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - David Schlemko


Martin Jones

How to watch Blackhawks at Sharks

Time: 9 pm CST

Where: SAP Center