Chicago Blackhawks: Easy to Find Motivation Against Pesky Edmonton Oilers

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IFebruary 25, 2013

The Chicago Blackhaws complete their current slate of consecutive home games with a Monday date with the Edmonton Oilers.
The Chicago Blackhaws complete their current slate of consecutive home games with a Monday date with the Edmonton Oilers.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks haven't dropped a game that didn't end in a shootout all season. They lead the NHL with 33 points.

Injured goalie Corey Crawford just returned to shut out Columbus Sunday night. The 'Hawks are now set to finish up a seven-game homestand Monday when the Edmonton Oilers visit the United Center.

You might think the 'Hawks need a little extra motivation as they prepare to drop the puck for the third time in four nights—not against this Oilers squad.

Chicago used a 28-save effort from Crawford in his first game back from an upper-body injury to dismiss the Blue Jackets, 1-0. The intensity may have been down from Friday night's 2-1 win over San Jose, but I'll be surprised if the Blackhawks sleepwalk through any of Monday's contest.

That's because Edmonton is a formidable opponent for the 'Hawks, despite the Oilers' 7-7-3 record. This is a young, fast-skating team that has given Chicago fits in recent memory.

Edmonton averaged six goals in four meetings with the Blackhawks in 2011-12, winning three of those games and embarrassing Chicago in two games in Alberta. Neither Crawford nor Ray Emery, who started one of those games, had the answer to the Oilers offense those nights.

The last meeting between the two teams in Chicago came Jan. 2, 2012. It was an eventful evening, with Daniel Carcillo being suspended for boarding Tom Gilbert in the second period and injuring himself in the process.

Carcillo would miss the remainder of the season, and the 'Hawks would give up two goals in the resulting five-minute power play. Ben Eager potted the game-winner as Edmonton won 4-3.

I would imagine that the 'Hawks will be looking at Devan Dubnyk in goal for the Oilers, though 40-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin has started four games without giving up more than a pair of goals. As of Monday morning, coach Joel Quenneville had yet to announce whether he is sending Crawford back out in net or going with Emery, who has not lost this season.

Edmonton will be missing Taylor Hall, who is currently under suspension for his hit on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck. However, the Oilers still have a lot of young talent in players like Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and others.

The 'Hawks are looking at what could be a tough game to get up for—if it weren't against this Edmonton team.