Hawks Oilers Preview

By Blake Schuster

After falling in Vancouver 3-2 in overtime Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks (29-15-7) head to Edmonton where they look to get their first win of their nine-game road trip tonight against the Oilers (19-26-5).


And while the Oiler’s record has them sitting in 14th place in the Western Conference, against the Hawks this season they’ve been stellar — outscoring Chicago 16-9 and winning two out of three games.


“We got our teeth kicked in here last time,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said this morning, “Let’s make sure to remember that. Tonight we need a win in a bad way.” Chicago has earned only one point in its last three games.


Yet coming into tonight’s final match-up of the season with the Blackhawks, the Oilers have only won three games in their last 10.  This may bode well for the Hawks, who after playing the Canucks in their first contest since the All-Star break, have shown they could use a tune-up game.


In his first game since breaking a bone in his wrist on January 8th, Patrick Sharp noticeably had trouble shooting. Sharp took six shots, two were blocked, one missed the net, and three were saved by Canucks goalie Corey Schneider.


“Conditioning-wise, and strength-wise I felt fine,” Sharp said, “It’s just a matter of getting that timing back, and that stuff comes from practice in games.”


And it’s not just Sharp who needs to perform at a higher level, but Jonathan Toews — who also recently returned from injury — as well. Against the Canucks on Tuesday, Toews won only 35% of his faceoffs, a long way off from his 60.6% season average.


But while Quenneville’s top line works out their kinks, the coach can take solace in the play of his starting goalie.


Corey Crawford finally found his old form in Vancouver, where he made 30 saves on 33 shots, many of which required acrobatics, and intense focus from the 27-year old.


And with one last chance to beat Edmonton this regular season, the Hawks haven’t forgotten where the series stands, and the amount goals they’ve allowed.


“It’s up to us to remember that feeling,” Toews said, “And hopefully go do something about it tonight.”

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