The Oilers had an ugly showing in yesterday’s matinee in Dallas, so what do we get? A matinee in Chicago! Here are your Oilers vs. Blackhawks game day notes.
- The Blackhawks currently sit in last place in the Central Division and are at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time since the beginning of their glory days. The last time they missed the playoffs was 2007-08, which was Patrick Kane’s rookie season. Since then, they’ve become a modern day dynasty, making the playoffs nine years in a row and winning the Stanley Cup three times. Of course, winning has its cost. The Hawks have Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane making $21 million combined, making it very difficult for them to navigate around the salary cap.
- The Oilers and Hawks have played twice this year. The first game came back on Oct. 19. The Oilers were in the midst of an early-season slide but edged out a gritty 2-1 overtime win thanks to a Mark Letestu overtime goal. There was relief in the faces of the Oilers after that one-timer and it seemed the ship was ready to turn around. That didn’t happen. The second meeting was on Dec. 29, when the Oilers battled back from down 3-1 in the final couple minutes to force overtime but Patrick Kane scored to give the Hawks the win.
- The Oilers have outshot Chicago in both meetings thus far, but they’ve outshot their opponents a lot this season and they don’t have much to show for it. In fact, they’ve outshot their opponents 24 times and only have a 11-11-2 record in those games. Chicago is in the same boat. They’ve outshot their opponents 23 times and they’re 11-12 in those games.
- The Blackhawks are like the Oilers in that their shot attempt numbers at even strength are superior to the totals they ultimately put up in the goal column. The Hawks rank third in the league with a 52.9 Corsi For percentage at even strength, but a middling shooting percentage has them sitting at 13th in the league in five on five goals. That certainly isn’t as dramatic as what the Oilers have going on, though. Edmonton had the fourth best shot attempt differential in the league but ranks 22nd in even strength goal differential.
- The Hawks also have one of the league’s worst power plays, adding to their mediocrity in putting the puck in the back of the net. Despite getting the fourth-most opportunities with the man advantage, Chicago has a putrid 14.7 power play percentage. Edmonton’s isn’t much better, coming in at 12.2 per cent efficiency. The Hawks league average on the penalty kill, coming in at 15th with an 81.4 per cent kill rate. And, of course, as we know, the Oilers are brutal and have only killed 70.9 per cent of the other team’s power play opportunities.
- Corey Crawford was placed on the Injured Reserve on Dec. 27 with an upper body injury and there isn’t a timeline for his return. While Crawford seldom gets credit for the massive role he plays in Chicago’s success, he owns a .929 save percentage this season and appeared to be on pace for Vezina Trophy consideration. In his absence, the Blackhawks are 2-1-2. One of those wins came over the Oilers in overtime when Jeff Glass, a member of Canada’s legendary 2005 World Juniors team, finally picked up his first NHL win.
- Glass won’t be in net for the Hawks against the Oilers today. It’ll be Anton Forsberg, the backup goalie the Hawks acquired last summer in the trade that sent Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Brandon Saad back to Chicago. For the season, Forsberg owns a .902 save percentage, which is pretty much in line with what he did in limited backup duty in Columbus behind Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney.
- Sticking with injuries, the Hawks will also be without Artem Anisimov, who was injured back in late December when the Hawks were playing the Vancouver Canucks. Anisimov commonly plays in the middle on Patrick Kane’s line, but instead it’ll be Nick Schmatlz lining up as Chicago’s No. 2 pivot. Without Anisimov, the Hawks are pretty barren in terms of scoring depth. Due to their top heavy cap picture, they aren’t a deep team at the best of times, but with Anisimov out, they only have four players with more than 10 goals. Richard Panik and Patrick Sharp have had disappointing seasons with only five goals each thus far, but Alex DeBrincat has had a strong rookie season and has 13 goals and Vinnie Hinostroza has six points in four games since joining Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad on the top line.
- The Oilers got steamrolled yesterday in Dallas by the Stars. It was ugly. They lost 5-1 and just looked completely outclassed. How are they going to respond? It’s their third beatdown in the past four games, as they were drilled 5-0 by both the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings. Their worst loss of the season was probably the 8-3 thrashing by the St. Louis Blues back in November. They played the next day and beat the Detroit Red Wings handily, 6-3. Are we going to see a motivated performance or has this team given up for the year
- Apparently, the Chicago Blackhawks have the best jersey in NHL history, according to a poll. I agree it’s a classic, but I don’t think it’s the best. I think the California Golden Seals might have something to say about that.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 01/07/2018 – 7:00am MST