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Blackhawks Shoot for Record Start vs. Canucks
“It’s always fun when things are going your way and you’re playing well to be able to match records or beat them or whatever,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “But the main thing is we’re having fun, we’re playing well and we have to keep improving off that.” [CSN / Falcone]
This will be the second meeting between these two teams. The first meeting resulted in a 2-1 shootout loss where Crawford came up with 21 saves, Patrick Kane scored the lone goal, and Luongo was perfect in the shootout at the Rogers Arena.
Roberto Luongo will not get the start this time around, instead Cory Schneider will take the net. Schneider has never received a regular season start against the Blackhawks before, but he has appeared in three games in relief of Luongo. During those three games, Schneider was credited with a 1-1-0 record along with a 0.885 save percentage and 4.05 goals against average.
Days after Ryan Kesler has made his way back into the Canucks line-up, David Booth will make his return for the Canucks after pulling his groin before the season started. This will be his first game this season, and his first regular season game against the Blackhawks in his career. With Kesler and Booth back, the Canucks 2nd line has officially been reassembled after relying on players such as Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen the majority of the year.
For the Blackhawks, Ray Emery has been expected to carry the load after Corey Crawford suffered a concussion. Emery has performed masterfully in his two straight starts, winning both games in Corey's absence while compiling a 0.945 save percentage. The fourth line was also a major contributor the last few games with Marcus Kruger scoring twice in the last four games and Michael Frolik contributing an assist.
IF HISTORY REPEATS ― Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks with 17 points against the Canucks. Patrick Sharp is tied with Kane for the team lead with eight goals each. Marian Hossa has the most assists on the team with 12 in his career against Vancouver. Jonathan Toews boasts a team best plus-4 rating. Sharp has fired the puck on net the most times with 87 shots on goal in 20 games. Dave Bolland has the best giveaway/takeaway ratio (3/14) although Kane is right behind him (3/13), Stalberg, Frolik, and Saad have not yet given the puck away (0/7 combined).
For defenseman, Duncan Keith leads all dressing defenseman in goals (2), assists (6), points (8), hits (21), and blocked shots (49). Most of that is due to his amount of games played. Hjalmarsson leads the defense with a plus-2 rating and Michal Rozsival has the best giveaway/takeaway ratio with a 6/7 split -- the only defenseman on the team that has more takeaways than giveaways.
THE BOTTOM LINE ― As you can see, the line of Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, and Dave Bolland will be crucial in this match-up especially since the Blackhawks are missing two key players in Seabrook and Crawford. The two Patricks not only lead the team in scoring against the Canucks, but Kane and Bolland also have an astounding giveaway/takeaway ratio that should allow that line to receive plenty of chances in the offensive end and keep the pressure on the Canucks. Jonathan Toews might be this teams No. 1 center, but this game Dave Bolland's line will be counted on to be the teams No. 1 offensive line. Rozsival will step in and has proven in the past that he can play fairly well against the Canucks. The Blackhawks will need to hope that he can continue that solid play and band-aid the loss of Seabrook. This could be a high scoring game unless the goaltenders can put on a show, regardless the offensive chances should be plentiful in this one.
ACROSS THE POND ― Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi was fined the maximum penalty after high-sticking Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey ... Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has returned to practice after suffering a concussion on Jan. 26th ...
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