Hollywood might as well script a movie about the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago is the story of the year in the National Hockey League.
The Blackhawks continue to shine night in and night out. With a 5-3 win over Minnesota Tuesday night, the Blackhawks extended their points streak to 23 consecutive games, breaking a tie with the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens for the second-longest streak in league history.
Moreover, the Blackhawks have won 10 straight games, a franchise record.
“They’ve been, game in and game out, bringing it and the consistency [of] our team game has been in place,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, courtesy of NHL.com. “Finding ways to win each and every night, whether it’s one line, whether it’s the whole group. Somebody jumps up and contributes a little more. Nobody wants to let each [other] down and keeps pushing each other in the right way.”
Though, every game presents another challenge for the Blackhawks to continue their dominance. Tonight, Colorado will arrive at the United Center looking to extinguish the flames in the first of a back-to-back home-and-home stretch against Chicago.
There’s reason for optimism for the Avalanche and alarm for the Blackhawks. Everyone is fully aware of this dream-like fairytale the Blackhawks are entrenched in.
It would be easy for the Blackhawks to overlook the visiting Avalanche, who will look to avoid losing three straight and six of their last seven games.
The Avalanche suffered their second consecutive defeat Tuesday night, falling 2-1 against the Detroit Red Wings. Paul Stastny netted the only goal for the Avalanche.
“He was incredible [Tuesday night],” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said, courtesy of NHL.com. “We played a good game. We did everything we could do except score.”
Scoring will be vital for the Avalanche against the Blackhawks—something that’s been virtually non-existent this season.
Colorado is currently tied with Calgary for fifth place in the Northwest Division with 20 points. But the Avalanche trail Edmonton by one point, Minnesota by four and division-leading Vancouver by seven.
At first glance, this game appears to be a complete mismatch. The Blackhawks boast the fourth-best scoring offense, allow the fewest goals per game and possess the second-best penalty kill.
On the flip side, the Avalanche are 24th in goals per game, 19th in goals against, 29th on the power play and 24th on the penalty kill.
There’s no question the Avalanche will be the heavy underdog. However, that might be all the motivation needed for a potential upset.
The Avalanche will need to be crisp in every facet against the Blackhawks.
It starts with playing physical. The Blackhawks boast three forwards upwards of 220 pounds, including Bryan Bickell—who heads the team with 51 hits through 23 games—Brandon Bollig and Jamal Mayers. There's also Brent Seabrook, a big and aggressive defenseman.
It will be critical for Jan Hejda and the rest of the Avalanche defense to be physical and play through the whistle.
Colorado also needs to get pucks deep in the offensive zone. They need to spend as much time around the Chicago net as possible while limiting Chicago’s chances on the other end.
Finally, Stastny and Landeskog need to lead by example. Stastny has posted two goals in his last three games, but Landeskog has just four points, including one goal in his last six games.
The Avalanche have two shots at knocking the Blackhawks off their thrown. If the underdog rises to the occasion, the Blackhawks could be in trouble.