Today marks the first time since January that the Chicago Blackhawks will host a home game at the United Center. What better way to welcome a return to home ice than taking on an Avalanche team that sits three points behind the Hawks in the Central Division standings.
I wrote earlier in the year why this potential first round playoff matchup against the Avs has the makings for a great rivalry. The Hawks have 20 games remaining this season, the least compared to their Central Division counterparts in the Blues (22) and Avalanche (21). Colorado has gone 2-1 since play resumed and has shown no signs of rust from the Olympic break. Calder Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon has anchored much of the offense as he was last riding an 11 game point streak. The Hawks will need to neutralize MacKinnon along with teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene, all made much more difficult without the services of Marian Hossa. Hossa will miss 2-3 weeks with an upper body injury.
Taking his place on the first line is Brandon Saad. Early reports this morning show the lineup to be as follows. Sharp-Toews-Saad Versteeg-Handzus-Kane Bickell-Regin-Shaw Bollig-Kruger-Smith Seabrook-Keith Hjalmarsson-Oduya Roszival-Leddy Crawford A win in regulation tonight places the Hawks five points ahead of the Avalanche and two points ahead of St. Louis. If the Blackhawks carry over the momentum from Saturday’s performance against the Penguins, tonight should be a high flying affair.
News & Notes With the trade deadline 24 hours away, rumors have been swirling around the NHL about potential trades. The biggest names that have been discussed include Ryan Kesler, Martin Brodeur, Stephane Robidas, Ryan Callahan, Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, and Jaroslav Halak. I am anticipating the Hawks to be fairly quiet in the next 24 hours. This is partially due to the Hawks history of making depth related moves on deadline day and the fact they are up against the cap.
If any significant trades are to be made, a roster player will have to be moved in order to be under the cap, something Stan Bowman is apprehensive to do. I’ll be running a live blog tomorrow as trades and rumors heat up until the 2 PM deadline. Check back here tomorrow morning and follow the action all day long.
Check out Chicago Blackhawks ticket information here.