NHL Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers
When the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks last met, the Blackhawks were still smarting from their streak-busting loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks fought back valiantly, but they still lost 6-5. They’ve come back stronger since then, and tonight’s game has a very important distinction at stake.
The Blackhawks will have another gun back in the arsenal for this game. Patrick Sharp, who’s been sitting out with an injury, will be back on the second line. But there will be a new face on the second line with Sharp and Patrick Kane. Drew LeBlanc, who was signed by the Blackhawks earlier in the month, will be centering in place of Dave Bolland, who is out with a groin injury. He won’t be eligible to play in the playoffs, but he’ll be centering a line with some major firepower.
The Oilers have had a hard fall since their peak in early April, when they were in eighth place and anticipating a playoff spot. Now they are near the bottom of the Western Conference and simply trying to end the season with some semblance of a win. They’re also without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ales Hemsky, both out with injuries, and Magnus Paajarvi is questionable for the game. This isn’t the team that defeated the Blackhawks almost two months ago.
Even though the Blackhawks don’t seem to care, a win tonight will seal the President’s Trophy for them. It would be their first point title in 21 years, and it will be the penultimate act to an amazing and historic season for them.
Both teams have nothing to lose at this point. This game will be some great entertainment, an excuse to stay up past your bed time, and one step closer to the Blackhawks’ playoff run.