Today's preview was written by guest writer Brendan Brown.
Game Time: 9 PM
TV / Radio: WGN, CBC / WGN Radio
Last night the Blackhawks lost to the Flames of Calgary, Alberta. The Flames went in to the game among the lowest scoring teams in the NHL, but managed five goals against a sloppy defensive showing by the Hawks. Make no mistake, it wasn't awesome. On numerous occasions our D were caught over-committed on the wrong side of the Flames blue-line and unchecked Flames forwards were given leave to stroll in on Corey Crawford. Keith lost some terrible one-on-one battles, and Leddy made some horrendous turnovers.
But it wasn't all bad. Some things looked really promising. There were instances where Captain all-work-no-play was really fantastic, in the first period he outworked Alex Tanguay down the wing to draw a penalty, still managed to break free of the hold and set up a two-on-one with Sharp that nearly resulted in a goal. The Pat Kane Center Ice Experience put in some great work on the back-check causing some turnovers and scoring opportunities. Crawford dug deep and stole a few goals from the Flames. Heck, even Carbomb showed responsibility in the second frame by laying down across the crease on the Tanguay empty net chance he ultimately couldn't put away. Best of all is that this loss came early on the hellride November road-trip and should serve to wake everyone up to the fact that we are going to have to get it together in both ends to win the tough games. Keith has to play better, some scoring from Sharp would be nice and some more power play production would go a long way.
Luckily, we really don't have to wait long to get revenge against Alberta as the Blackhawks face the slumping Edmonton Oilers at 10 EST tonight at Rexall Place. The Oil is choking down some jagged pills of reality as their phenomenal start has lost its form as of late. Their Kid Line that was accounting for much of their spark in the early season has largely fizzled out. Eberle, Hall, and Newkid-Longname have a combined six points during the Oilers' recent four game losing spree. Khabibulin's play has faltered too and looks old after a stellar start this season. Ryan Smitty is a hard guy to hate but he honestly has no business leading any team in scoring. As expected, and contrary to some early season success indicated, the Oilers are not great.
Khabibulin will dress for the Oilers, but I predict an early departure for the old buddy. As was apparent in last week's meeting our snipers seem to have the book on Khabby.
Ray Emery will be backstop for the good guys tonight as the Hawks rest Crawford. Brent Seabrook's lower body will not be playing but may be back within the next few games. Ben Smith was jostled through a few lines last night with no real success, look for our young gun to step up tonight though.
Sixty minutes of good hockey in both ends and the Blackhawks will leave Alberta with a W.
I predict great things. Go Hawks!