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In the Devil’s Den: Blackhawks @ Devils Preview

April 2, 2010

Game Time: 6:00 PM CST
TV/Radio: NHL-N, CSN / WGN (720-AM)
The Bad Guys: In Lou We Trust

Stat Pack:

Blackhawks (2nd)
Devils (4th)
L10
3-5-2 (ouch, still) 4-3-3
Record on the Road: 20-14-4 at Home: 25-10-3
PP% 18.2% (16th) 18.3% (T-14th)
PK 84.7% (5th) 82.5% (13th)

I don’t know if I should be writing this preview at all–the last time no preview happened, the Hawks won…

Haha, just kidding. I’m pretty sure Andrew will not approve of superstition ruling editorial decisions on this blog. (But yes, I will be wearing my “lucky” shirt tonight.)

Anyway, the last time these two teams met, the Blackhawks gave the Devils such a drubbing that I had to ask myself if this was real life. I believe the score was something like 5-0 before the Devils ruined Huet’s shutout bid very late in the third period–something rather unexpected because the Devils had just come from shutting out the defending Cup champions themselves, and were still at the top of the Eastern conference.

Fast-forward three months later. Both teams have clinched playoff berths, and while Chicago is trying to clinch its first division title since the 1992-1993 season (4 pts acquired in either wins or OT losses will do it regardless of what Nashville or Detroit does), New Jersey is trying to regain their footing on the Atlantic, lost for now to the Penguins (who seem able to beat anyone but the Devils).

Despite a strong start to the season, the Devils have also slowed down in the last few months, going 2-4-1 in February and 7-5-3 in March. Yes, and that’s with Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup. It must be the same thing that’s been plaguing the Hawks, though, because the Devils have also held team meetings to discuss their listless play as of late. According to the guys at “In Lou We Trust”, starting the games with any level of urgency has been the Devils’ Achilles heel of late.

At least they know to  problem occurs. The Blackhawks have suffered from turning off every now and then and failing to play the full 60 minutes, but in recent losses it seems we could never figure out which period to dread. The Hawks are, however, coming off a solid 4-0 win against the Minnesota Wild, so it does look like the ship has righted itself once more. Of course, considering it kind of felt that way each and every time we won in the last 10 games (3 wins, 3 shutouts–talk about a rollercoaster ride), let’s hold back breathing that sigh of relief until we get a few more games under our belt this blessed month of April.

Niemi is getting the start once more, an almost sure sign that he will be the Hawks’ goalie for the playoffs, and Boynton and Burish will be sitting. Last Wednesday, we saw flashes of “oh yeah, that could work” with the lines that Q put out to play, so I don’t see why he would decide to mess with the formula.

Expect Toews to center Sharp and Hossa once more, Bolland with Brouwer and Kane, Madden with Versteeg and Ladd, and Fraser with Kopecky and Eager. We’ve seen how the first and third lines can be effective, and the fourth line stole the spotlight last time, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic with the second line’s chances too. Kane has worked well with both his linemates at one point or another, and it could just be a matter of time before all three of them begin to generate chances of their own. Meanwhile, the blue line should stay as it did last time too–Keith with Byfuglien, Seabrook with Hjalmarsson, and Sopel with Hendry. Not too shabby considering who we’re missing.

This is Madden’s first game in New Jersey playing as the enemy. The last time the Blackhawks won in New Jersey was in 1997. Can we please just turn the tide against our losing streaks to Eastern Conference teams? Here’s to what could be the beginning of a nice, long winning streak. Especially since the Flames are up next, and as I’m going to be watching it live, I’d really prefer not to get embarrassed.

Update from Andrew: The game is on CSN. My bad. They sent me the video for Sunday’s game and I assumed it was for today. Whoopsies.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    April 2, 2010 1:30 PM

    The game is on WGN – The bar I am going to better have it…I am thinking Stella’s/Blue Moon wings and me on a patio watching the Hawks win, at least that’s what I am hoping for. I am pretty excited if we are keep the same lines.

    I hope they don’t boo Madden.

    • chiblackhawks permalink*
      April 2, 2010 10:29 PM

      I think people actually cheered when they announced Madden’s name. 🙂

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