Blackhawks-Sharks: The "Circus Trip" Continues

Craig NuzzoCorrespondent INovember 25, 2008

Wow, Chicago hockey has been pretty sweet this year. I am enjoying the 'Hawks play more and more each day (especially with the unfortunate play of the Bulls and the way the Bears have been so inconsistent).

Anyways, on to the preview.

The Chicago Blackhawks (10-4-5) will face-off against the best team in the NHL on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 9:30 P.M. CDT inside the HP Pavilion. That team is the San Jose Sharks (17-3-1).

Chicago has gone 3-0 on this "Circus Trip" so far. An incredible feat after going nearly 5-23 in previous years on the trip.

The last time the 'Hawks faced the Sharks, it ended in O.T., the 'Hawks lost 6-5. The game was incredible closer than what I originally thought. Hopefully, this game will be the same way. If it is, expect an incredible game with these two talented hockey teams.

Let's take a look at what the 'Hawks need to do in order to drown the Sharks.


Keys of the Game

The Patrick's: With the trade rumors about Mike Nylander, Brent Soplel, and Dustin Byfuglien going around, Sharp could very well find himself moving over to the wing side of the ice. Look for Sharpie to earn his respect as he shoots in another goal on Wednesday night. Also, look for star Patrick Kane to add to his team leading goal count of 12.

Simple Score: The Blackhawks have one of the best offenses in the league scoring an average of 3.63 goals per game. I wouldn't be surprised if I witness a high scoring game.

Score first: It seems like the 'Hawks trail early and regain the lead late in some of the games they have played this season. It's going to be very imperative for the 'Hawks to score early and first to get the momentum going.

Goalie: Joel has made it obvious that Nikolai Khabibulin is the No.1 net minor for the Chicago Blackhawks. Khabi has started all three "Circus Trip" road games for the 'Hawks, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him again on Wednesday night. Even though Cristobal Huet has a $22.5 million contract for four years, he should sit another game out. The last time the 'Hawks played the Sharks on Nov. 16, Huet allowed six goals against.

Power Plays: Don't allow the Sharks to take advantage of dumb penalties. On the other hand, use the power play to score goals. Both the 'Hawks and the Sharks are converting more than 21 percent of their power play chances.

Defense: Use it wisely! The Sharks also have one of the best offenses in the league with 3.71 goals per game.

Stop the Three Stars of the Sharks: Devin Setoguchi, who leades the team with 12 goals; Joe Thornton, who leads the team with 17 assists; and Patrick Marleau, who is tied with Setoguchi for a lead of 24 points.


My last preview article: Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: An Original Six Showdown in Toronto, with a little luck, my score prediction was right. Let's see how this one plays out.

Prediction: 6-4 'Hawks

The 'Hawks can make history with a win over the Sharks. Tune into WGN (HD where available) for a great hockey game on Wednesday night.