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Awww. I feel CERTAIN this is such an emotional wkend for TCD what with Modano being feted, lauded, & generally knob-licked. Pomp & circumstance number retiring ceremony = Must See TV for our fave Vancouverite. #No9ForEvah #VerklemptMuchShow comments (6)
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Blackhawks and Blue Jackets Face Off in Divisional Showdown
On Tuesday, the Blue Jackets were hoping to extend their history with another win (would have been six wins straight) against the Canucks during their streak, but they fell short in the shootout. Sergei Bobrovsky was brilliant in the game, and has been amazing for Columbus for quite sometime now. Unfortunately for him and Columbus, the game ended with a controversial shootout attempt by Mason Raymond and they took the lone point.
Bobrovsky, in particular, has really found his groove lately. Over his last six starts, the man they call Bob has put together a 5-0-1 record along with a unbelievable 0.968 save percentage and 0.83 goals against average. Eye popping statistics. In his career against Chicago, he has only appeared in one game, which he won by only conceding one goal and stoning the Blackhawks (ironically) with a 0.968 save percentage.
But it can't all rest on goaltending, so who do the Blackhawks need to watch out for? Well there are a couple of players that have had the hot hand lately for Columbus, although none of them are among the point per game threshold. One of them is Nick Foligno, finding his touch recently with one goal and six assists in his last eight games. Vinny Prospal has been the horse (if you want to call him that) for Columbus all year long―as they say, your best players have to be your best players in order to win, and he has; with three goals and three assists in his last eight games. RJ Umberger is another player that can't quite seem to reach the point per game mark, but he has also contributed three goals and two assists in his last eight games. If you can see where this is headed, multiple players have put up around 4-5 points during this stretch, including Ryan Johansen, Derek Brassard, Mark Letestu, and defenseman Fedor Tyutin.
The offense may not be as plentiful as it is for the Blackhawks, but it's been just the right dose to rattle off wins in front of a hot goaltender.
On tails, the Blackhawks have come off of two grueling losses. It was bound to happen, but many wondered why it had to happen against two bottom feeders in the conference. I wasn't surprised and even underlined the reasoning behind our losses before the games even happened. I don't want to nitpick too much into those two losses, and will give the team the benefit of proving that they can shake off the adversity. If there is one thing I've learned about all my years in hockey, over such a prolonged winning streak a team is bound to develop bad habits, and with three days off it gave Joel Quenneville and the rest of the coaching staff ample time to help get the team back on the winning side.
It's hard to find positives when a team is losing, but it was encouraging to see the Blackhawks rally back from a deficit and nearly pull it off against the Oilers. Patrick Kane also had a lot of fire with three points against Edmonton, but he hasn't been the only one playing with a hot hand. Brandon Saad has found his game with point in four straight games and eight points in his last seven―that would lead Columbus folks, to put it into perspective. Bryan Bickell has also found his scoring touch, with four goals in his last six games.
The Blackhawks are adding another hot hand to the mix by calling up Jimmy Hayes. The big man is currently tied for the team lead on the Rockford IceHogs with 22 goals in 58 games. He appeared in 31 NHL games last season for the Blackhawks, scoring 5 goals and adding 4 assists.
Corey Crawford will get the net tonight, and that is 100% the correct choice for Quenneville. Over his career, Crawford has appeared in 10 games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and has complied a 8-2-0 record, 0.938 save percentage, and 1.99 goals against average. Not quite Bobrovsky numbers but over a larger scale it is far more impressive. At the same time, over his last three appearances he has struggled, in fact it has been his worst stretch of hockey all season. This is a bounce back performance for Corey and it will be interesting to see how he responds.
SEASON SERIES (3-0-0) ― Steve Mason started all three previous games and lost every single one of them with a 0.907 save percentage and 2.65 goals against average. Corey Crawford has two wins, one of them was a shutout, and 0.963 save percentage against the Blue Jackets this year. Ray Emery started the other contest, although he won, he finished with a 0.864 save percentage. Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell have led the charge on offense with three points each in the season series. Artem Anisimov leads the Blue Jackets with two goals, but he is a game time decision tonight.
IF HISTORY REPEATS ― Patrick Sharp sits on top of the leaderboard with 25 goals and 42 points in 44 career games against the Blue Jackets. The next two point leaders are Marian Hossa (17g, 18a) and Patrick Kane (12g, 23a), both have contributed 35 points. The offensive anchor on defense is Duncan Keith with 26 assists and 32 points in 51 games, but Brent Seabrook has scored more goals (9) against Columbus. As mentioned earlier, Corey Crawford boasts a 8-2-0 record, 0.938 save percentage, and 1.99 goals against average against the Blue Jackets in his career.
BOTTOM LINE ―With the string of luck Chicago has gone through lately, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bobrovsky stand on his head once again. But, the Blackhawks are hungry for a win, they should come out focused and ready to pepper the Blue Jackets defense unlike the previous start. Unless Bobrovsky has the game of his life, there will be little to no chance for Columbus to pull off a win. Look for a close game, with the Blue Jackets making the most of every opportunity while the Blackhawks try to pour it on. I wouldn't be surprised to see this game in overtime, but that solely relies on the play of Bob.
MILESTONE WATCH ― Dave Bolland (97 assists), Marian Hossa (497 assists), Patrick Kane (399 points), Johnny Oduya (99 assists)
ACROSS THE POND ― The Board of Governors agree to the NHL's realignment proposal ... The Tampa Bay Lightning have placed F Vinny Lecavalier on injured reserve ... Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry, Ryan Miller, and Mike Ribeiro are hot topics among the NHL rumor mill ...
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