NHL Showdown: Top Two Teams In The West Face Off

Chicago Blackhawks-Brace Hemmelgarn-USA Today Sports

Chicago Blackhawks-Brace Hemmelgarn-USA Today Sports

 

Sports fans are in for a treat tonight when the two best records in the NHL meet tonight in a clash of Western Conference titans. It is the first of three head-to-head match-ups set to take place in a 17-day span and promises to be hockey at its very finest.

Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks are getting ready for the biggest game either team has had so far in this young NHL season. With each team only having played nine games, there is still plenty of hockey to come, but these three games could have a major impact when it comes to seeding in the playoffs. Both teams are sitting at seven wins and two losses and have been playing hockey on another level than the rest of the NHL. With the season having been shortened by the lockout, both realize how important this game could be.

The Blackhawks are the league’s last team without a loss in regulation, but they have lost two out of their last three games via the shootout. Shootout losses aside, Chicago has one of the most rounded teams in the league, boasting excellent offense, outstanding goaltending and special teams that rank at the top of the league in penalty kill situations. They will be looking to take it to the Sharks early and often to try and nullify the disadvantage of playing this first match at the Shark Tank.

San Jose has also lost two of their last three, losing in a shootout to the Nashville Predators at home and then suffering a road loss in regulation to the Anaheim Ducks. Their offense has been spectacular this season and their strength has been at the power play. They already have four players with points totals in double digits and like the Blackhawks, their goaltending has been fantastic. With the next two meetings set to take place in Chicago, the Sharks will be intent on taking advantage of being on their home ice tonight.

The majority of the Sharks games this season have been at home and with seven of the Blackhawks nine games having been on the road, they come into tonight’s match-up battle tested and fully capable of stealing a win. The two teams will take the ice tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern and with both teams so evenly matched, it promises to be must-see TV.

Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com.  Follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, “Like” his page on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google+.

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