For the Chicago Blackhawks, the next three games are about perseverance and establishing momentum. The light at the end of the Circus Trip tunnel is shining brighter, and of the three games remaining, only the Phoenix Coyotes game to end the trip features two teams who are playing at high levels.
That being said, tomorrow night’s contest against the Calgary Flames will be a good opportunity for the team to measure their performance on this trip. Despite their struggles, the Flames beat the Blackhawks in their lone meeting this year behind a stonewall performance by rookie goaltender Reto Berra. Berra faced and stopped over 40 shots despite making his first career NHL start against the Blackhawks’ offense, which continues to be among the best in the league.
Not necessarily leading the offense, but dominating second-line opponents is winger Patrick Kane, who has cemented himself as the leader of the second line during his 11-game point streak. During the stretch, Kane has six goals and nine assists. Since being inserted to the second line with Brandon Pirri, both Kane and the Blackhawks’ top-six has improved, leading the Blackhawks to a NHL-leading 38 points.
The Blackhawks have yet to name a starting goaltender, although there is a large possibility backup Antti Raanta would get the start tonight, and starting goaltender Corey Crawford could possibly take both legs of the back-to-back, which will occur this weekend. If Raanta does get the start, all eyes will immediately shift to the him as he would be facing a Calgary offense that has scored four-plus goals in their last three games.
To date, Calgary’s offense ranks 13th in the league, while their power play ranks 23rd.
Statistically speaking, this game will likely be decided in the first period, as Chicago has not lost while leading after one. Calgary, meanwhile, has failed to put games away and is a .500 team when leading after one period. Calgary also ranks towards the bottom (24th) in games won while scoring first, while Chicago is seventh in the league in winning percentage when scoring first.
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