Chicago Blackhawks: Predicting the Score of Every Game on the Circus Trip
The Hawks were in a bit of a funk at the beginning of November, losing three straight games, but they've since bounced back and won three straight prior to hitting the road for six of the Hawks' seven remaining games in the month of November.
Chicago's power play has made significant improvement over the last week or so, and the penalty kill has improved since the Hawks' three-game losing streak.
Despite injuries to Brent Seabrook and Dave Bolland, the Hawks have no plans to leave the top spot in the 2011-12 NHL standings with 25 points, and counting.
Wednesday, November 16: Chicago Blackhawks @ Vancouver Canucks
The Chicago Blackhawks will be seeking revenge when they travel to Vancouver on November 16 to face off against the Vancouver Canucks because of the embarrassing 6-2 loss Vancouver handed the Hawks at home earlier this season.
Vancouver's team Twitter account tweeted November 15, saying Cory Schneider will be starting in net instead of Roberto Luongo. That makes the Blackhawks' task that much easier.
You know Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville will have his boys ready for this game against Vancouver, and adjustments will have been made from last time these two teams took the ice.
The Hawks are going to hold nothing back against their newest rivals, and they're going to light the lamp as many times as they can.
Prediction: Blackhawks 5, Canucks 1
Friday, November 18: Chicago Blackhawks @ Calgary Flames
The Chicago Blackhawks recently beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1, and Ray Emery started in between the pipes for the Hawks. I'm sure Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville will give Corey Crawford an opportunity to face Calgary when these two teams play Friday, November 18.
The Hawks are 8-2 against Calgary dating back to April of 2009, however Chicago has dropped its last two meetings when playing Calgary in the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Calgary is not as big of a threat as they previously have been to the Hawks, currently with a 7-9 record sitting in last place of the Western Conference's Northwest division.
I expect Dave Bolland to be back for the Hawks by the time they face off against Calgary, and that adds more depth to the Blackhawks' offense, power play and penalty kill.
Prediction: Blackhawks 3, Flames 2
Saturday, November 19: Chicago Blackhawks @ Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are not the most ideal team for the Chicago Blackhawks to play against on the second half of back-to-back games, considering the speed and young talent throughout the Oilers roster.
Chicago found the back of the net six times when these two teams last played earlier this season, and the Hawks ended up winning, 6-3, led by two goals from both Jonathan Toews and Steve Montador.
Though, Edmonton is a young and up-and-coming team, the Hawks' veteran leadership complemented with young talent will prevail, once again.
Prediction: Blackhawks 3, Oilers 1
Wednesday, November 23: Chicago Blackhawks @ San Jose Sharks
The Chicago Blackhawks get the opportunity to play against a few of their former teammates when they make their first stop in California this season to take on the San Jose Sharks.
Martin Havlat, who was traded to San Jose this past summer, played for the Hawks for three season before signing with the Minnesota Wild prior to the 2009-10 season—the same year the Hawks acquired Marian Hossa and won the Stanley Cup.
Antti Niemi, the netminder for the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup championship team, will most likely be starting in net for the Sharks just as he has for most of the 2011-12 thus far.
The Hawks got the best of Niemi last time they faced their former goaltender, lighting him up for six goals en route of a 6-3 win. However, Chicago has struggled against San Jose in their last six regular season meetings, winning just two of those games.
The Hawks win streak may come to an end when they travel to San Jose, but they can't win them all. Adversity is apart of the game.
Prediction: Blackhawks 1, Sharks 2
Friday, November 25: Chicago Blackhawks @ Anahem Ducks
The Chicago Blackhawks escaped with a 3-2 shootout win the last time they played the Anaheim Ducks, and Anaheim is the first half of a back-to-back to close out the Hawks' road trip.
Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry played the Hawks well last time these two faced each other, but the Hawks have the benefit of watching film and seeing what mistakes were made in order to not make the same ones when these two teams face off for a second time in the 2011-12 season.
Despite Jonas Hiller's impressive game resulting in a loss last time Anaheim and Chicago played, Hiller hasn't had the most ideal start to the season.
The Hawks have been clicking on all cylinders prior to the start of the six-game road trip, and I expect them to continue to develop chemistry and build off their previous mistakes.
If Corey Crawford is the Hawks' goalie against Anaheim, I'm predicting a shutout. He's due for one. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Joel Quenneville gave Ray Emery the start against his former team, especially considering it's an early game (4 pm) on the west coast and the first of back-to-backs.
Prediction: Blackhawks 2, Ducks 0
Saturday, November 26: Chicago Blackhawks @ Los Angeles Kings
The Chicago Blackhawks finalize their two-week-long road trip against the Los Angeles Kings—the first of four times these two teams will meet in the 2011-12 NHL season.
The Kings always seem to play the Hawks tough, no matter if they're on the road or at home. And the success Kings netminder Jonathan Quick has had this season, stopping 93 percent of his shots and allowing less than two goals per game, is not going to make the Hawks' task any easier before the head back to Chicago.
Los Angeles has been without their star defenseman, Drew Doughty, all season due to a holdout over his current contract. That will certainly help the Hawks open and spread the ice with their explosive offense.
It's not going to be easy for the Hawks to close out their six-game road trip, but I have a good feeling they'll get it don and leave Los Angeles with two more points in the standings.
Prediction: Blackhawks 2, Kings 1 in OT