So where were you the week of January 8th, 1931?
Were you celebrating the New York Giants 22-0 shutout over Notre Dame in a charity football game the week before? Maybe you were spending some quality time alone in your bedroom thinking about America’s hottest new movie star, Bette Davis?
Well if you were a Chicago Blackhawks fan you were fired up about the four consecutive road shutouts the team had just posted, and you’ve been waiting a long time for a chance to see it happen again.
Tonight the Hawks hope to tie that record set so many moons ago as they face their rivals the Vancouver Canucks for the final time this season in what could be a potential Western Conference Finals preview.
The Canucks are currently five points out of the second seed behind the Anaheim Ducks with three to play and can do no worse than third so long as they hang on and win the Northwest Division. They’ve scored only one goal in each of their last three games and have but a single win in regulation in their last five, however they’ve won seven in a row at home thanks to Cory Schneider’s rock solid goal-tending. His 0.84 GAA and .970 save percentage over that span pretty much ensures that if the Hawks come close to tying that road shutout record we’re going to see very little scoring.
The Hawks meanwhile are in the midst of an 11 game points streak despite losing in a shootout on Saturday to the Phoenix Coyotes. They’re currently five points up on the Pittsburgh Penguins with four games to play in the race for the President’s Trophy, and in the event that they win tonight and the Pens were to lose in regulation they’d have home ice advantage all the way through the playoffs for the first time since the 1990-91 season.
The power play appears to be back on track after a successful weekend that yielded four goals in seven opportunities, however goalie Corey Crawford’s erratic play in net has many still wondering if backup Ray Emery might be a better choice come playoff time. Crawford will be making his third straight start in a row tonight with Emery still dealing with an upper-body issue (he will be on the bench in reserve) and his performance against a quality opponent may be very telling for how the remainder of the season plays out in net.
Thanks to a couple of intense playoff series over the last three years these teams pretty much despise each other, and so lately the on-ice friction has been palpable. In 2010 the Hawks knocked off Vancouver on their way to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, and the following year the Canucks returned the favor by edging out the Hawks in seven games.
This season the teams have split the season series with each home team winning a shootout, and considering both teams still have plenty to play for, I’d say the chances we see a bit of bare-knuckle boxing—circa 1931—are pretty good.