Chicago are the current Stanley Cup champs
and will be until someone else wins the trophy in the 2011 playoffs. But as the
second season approaches, the Blackhawks don’t even know whether they will be
participating or not.
They’ll face the Detroit Red Wings twice to finish of
their regular season schedule and their play will determine their fate. The
urgency isn’t there for the Red Wings, so look for the Blackhawks to take
Blackhawks Can Win Because…:
Leading goal scorer Patrick Sharp is back in the lineup
and the scoring appears to be intact once again.
The Chicago Blackhawks had scored just 13 goals in the seven
games that Sharp missed but in his first game back, they notched four. That’s
not a coincidence. Sharp had an assist and registered a team-high seven shots
in his return.
At the same time, the Red Wings will be without one of
their top scorers as Henrik Zetterberg will miss both games against Chicago
with a lower body injury. He leads the Red Wings with 80 points this season.
The Blackhawks are just 6-5-3 over their last 14 games
but don’t blame goaltender Corey Crawford for that. He’s allowed just 17 goals
his last nine starts, but the Blackhawks just haven’t provided him with enough
support to get the job done.
The Red Wings are in a slump of their own as they have just
seven wins in their last 17. At one point, they had a cushy lead for the No. 2
seed in the conference but they’ve now slid to third. There’s just something a
little off with the Red Wings team and they aren’t the dominant Western
Conference powerhouse of old.
The Detroit Red
Wings Can Win Because…:
The Blackhawks are reeling right now.
They are supposed to be the reigning, defending Stanley
Cup champs but if the playoffs started today, the Blackhawks would be the last
team in and only by a hair.
Chicago had lost two straight and nearly made a third
when the lowly St. Louis Blues visited on Wednesday. The Blackhawks had to
climb out of a 2-0 hole and escape with a 4-3 overtime win against a Blues
squad that had nothing to play for.
The Blackhawks power play, which has been a big weapon
for them this season, has gone completely cold. They have just one tally in
their last one goal on the man advantage in their last 17 opportunities.
Outlook & NHL
The Blackhawks have won the last three meetings between
the teams while holding the Red Wings to just four goals in those games. With
Crawford playing well and Sharp back in the lineup, look for the Blackhawks to
hand the Red Wings another loss.
Detroit might be at home for this contest but Joe Louis
Arena hasn’t exactly provided much of a home-ice advantage of late. They have
just four wins in their last 11 home contests.