Hockey is back. After no games during the NHL’s mandated three-day holiday break, the league returns with a slate of 10 games including a Central Division matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche.
Over the last 10 games, the Avalanche, who used to be among the NHL elite, have cooled off a little bit, falling behind the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. Their last two losses have come in the shootout, likely to the ire of fiery coach Patrick Roy.
The Avalanche, however, have won the lone matchup between the two teams in an impressive 5-1 fashion. For the Blackhawks, a one-goal performance is fluky, even against a Colorado defense which ranks in the top 10 averaging 2.36 goals allowed per game.
Where the Avalanche can be a bit exploitable is on the penalty kill. Colorado now ranks 20th in the league in penalties, averaging 12 minutes per game. Their kill is 22nd overall at 80.4 percent, and unlike Chicago who has a strong power play, Colorado’s power play is 19th in the NHL at 19.5 percent.
Thanks to an increase in efficiency, the Blackhawks’ power play is third in the league thanks in large part to both Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. While Kane’s newest point streak is at 12 and he has a legitimate chance to capture the scoring title away from Sidney Crosby, Sharp has added a rather quiet 10-goal-in-14-game stretch to his credit.
So, thanks to two high-powered offenses and a Colorado team trying to keep up against elite competition, fans can expect a high-scoring affair tomorrow night, in what is certainly must-see hockey. Knowing that Colorado will likely be attempting to push the pace, the Blackhawks should get an early attempt on the power play, with their success possibly determining the outcome of the game.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486.
With plenty of home games still on the Blackhawks schedule fans can find great deals on tickets as they are positioned to repeat as champions.