The Chicago Blackhawks will carry a two-game losing streak into the Pepsi Center tonight for a game against the Colorado Avalanche
If there was ever a cure for a short-term losing streak in the 2016-17 NHL season, it has to be a trip to Denver. The Chicago Blackhawks get just that tonight with a game against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avs have had a disastrous season, with many key players now being touted as trade bait. With the Avs sitting at just 27 points through 41 games, guys like Gabe Landeskog, Tyson Barrie and Jarome Iginla have been linked to contending teams.
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The Blackhawks can’t overlook the Avs, though, as they always seem to play Chicago tough. They also have some decent speed in their forward ranks that can burn the Blackhawks.
But tonight’s game is going to offer a look at a different forward corps for the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville is sick of his team’s offense not going anywhere, so he’s trying something new.
The first thing you’ll notice is Toews and Hossa have been split on the top line. Hossa hasn’t been quite so potent since returning from a short-term injury, while Toews’ offensive resurgence was very short-lived.
The top line is going to be a net-crashing machine. Toews is going to have to be the passing leader of this group, as that’s not really the forte of Hartman or Panik. The wingers should be expected to finish things off on this line.
The third line, meanwhile, will have a nice mix of speed and power, and it has a good chance to succeed against any of Colorado’s lines. The Blackhawks will also be going back to 12 forwards tonight, with Desjardins drawing back into the lineup.
The defensive pairs and starting goaltender are not yet known, but one of the blueliners who played Sunday against Minnesota will have to sit tonight. My money would be on Michal Rozsival or Brian Campbell. My money would also be on Scott Darling getting the start tonight over Corey Crawford.
Not much to say here. A lot of the usual suspects are still around for now. Varlamov is always capable of stealing a game (though the defense in front of him will offer little help). There are talented forward threats in MacKinnon, Landeskog, Duchene, Rantanen and Iginla.
Prediction: The Blackhawks are trying out a new lineup, but Colorado is in such disarray I don’t think it’ll matter. I like the Blackhawks for a 4-1 victory tonight, with goals from Kane, Panarin, Hossa and Schmaltz. And let’s say Desjardins finally gets a point on the Schmaltz goal. Why not?