Since opening the homestand with a shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks on February 12, the Blackhawks have come right back to defeat the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Tuesday's game will likely be the hardest thus far on the current homestand.
Not only will it be a rivalry game between the two teams, but the Blackhawks will have a chance to tie the all-time NHL record for points in consecutive games at 16.
While the Blackhawks may be on the verge of making NHL history, captain Jonathan Toews says that his main focus is just grabbing home-ice advantage for the playoffs (via ABC News):
We're 15 games into the season. What's important to us is getting home ice advantage, making the playoffs. Those are our goals. Once you get there, the real season starts. When you get to that point, no one really cares or remembers those streaks at the start of the season.
But these teams have history; these teams will always bring a little extra to the game when they play each other. It's hard to believe that the Blackhawks will just look at this as one game closer to the playoffs.
The Canucks are one of the three teams to hand the Blackhawks a loss this season, coming in a shootout at Rogers Arena. A little revenge may be in order for the Blackhawks, who thought they played well enough to pull out a win in Vancouver a few weeks ago.
On the contrary, the Canucks would love to be the first team to hand the Blackhawks a regulation loss this season while also ending their point streak right on the record-tying game. Bad blood and a few fights are bound to flair up early in the game to get the home crowd energized.
It's still uncertain if Ray Emery will start his third-consecutive game or if Corey Crawford will be back from an upper-body injury. But with the way both goaltenders have been playing as of late, it might not matter which goalie plays in net.
Offense will be at a premium for the Blackhawks with how good Roberto Luongo has been playing as of late. While no official word has been released on starting goaltenders for the Canucks, Luongo will probably play against Chicago.
In any case, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa will have to pick up their production if the Blackhawks want to have any chance at keeping this point streak alive.
Kane failed to put anything on the board in Chicago's 3-2 victory over the Kings on Sunday, while also turning the puck over numerous times in the offensive zone. Hossa has been kept off the score sheet in his last three games—mustering up 12 shots in that time.
This game will be determined by which team handles the puck better in the defensive zone.
If the Blackhawks can continue their excellent forecheck, then they should be able to cash in on some of the Canucks' defensive mistakes. The third line of Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg should have a good number of opportunities with the way they have been performing the last few games.
It's bound to be tense matchup, but the Blackhawks should squeak by the Canucks with a final score of 3-2 in overtime and match the Anaheim Ducks' record of 16 consecutive games with a least a point.
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