After a decisive win versus a very good Edmonton Oilers, the Chicago Blackhawks will host the Detroit Red Wings Saturday. Aaron Johnson, Brent Seabrook, and Patrick Sharp all netted goals versus the Oilers for a 3-0 victory.
For most Blackhawks fans this was the most anticipated game of the early season and rightfully so. The Red Wings and Blackhawks are two original six franchises, with in the same division and divided by Lake Michigan.
The Blackhawks looked like the team that had been hyped all off-season, they look great on defense, great on special teams and the goal-tending was tremendous. I'm not sure if Joel Quenneville deserves all the credit for the 'Hawks turn around because he has not been able to completely implement his offensive schemes.
The real reason, in my opinion, that the 'Hawks have had such a dramatic turn around is because the players realize that their poor play in the early going is the reason that Denis Savard was fired.
The Detroit Red Wings are 4-1-1 this season and have been as strong as ever. The Wings have five players that have averaged a point per game but the weakness of the Red Wings, if their is a weakness, would be the inconsistency of their number one goal-tender, Chris Osgood.
Free agent signee Ty Conklin has out played the incumbent Chris Osgood by posting a 2-0-0 record with a 92.3% save percentage and a 2.00 GAA.
Blackhawks Keys to the Game:
The key for the Blackhawks in their first encounter with their arch-rival is that they need to get their offense firing early and to make sure that they play as solid defensively as the did against the Oilers.
My guess would be that after Nikolai Khabibulin's shut out then he will the nod in net against the Detroit Red Wings. The 'Hawks had the upper hand against the Wings last season and look to continue that success on Saturday.
Player to Watch:
Jonathan Toews is still looking to get his first goal of the season, Toews did not score a goal against the Red Wings last season. This is the night that Toews gets his first goal of the season and first against the Red Wings.
Chicago Blackhawks Line-Up*:
*subject to change
Chicago Blackhawks News and Notes:
Troy Brouwer made his season debut versus the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and posted a plus-one. Although he was on the ice for a goal he was rather invisible early but as the game progressed he upped his physical play and even got into a little scrum towards the end of the game.
Brent Sopel was a unhealthy scratch according to the coach Joel Quenneville but he would not disclose what the injury was. Sopel has been rather disappointing this season after inking a three year extension last season and so far this season he has zero points and a minus-six rating.
The Blackhawks will unveil their jerseys for the Winter Classic this Saturday at the United Center before their game versus Detroit.