Hawks need to take advantage of struggling opponents + Murphy is close
Even though it was 57 shots against, I’m still enjoying that win against the Leafs on Sunday.
I will admit I’m mostly still thinking about that “W” because I’m in the Toronto market and have a lot of friends that are Leafs fans, so it’s quite enjoyable seeing the Hawks beat them in any fashion.
Moving on to what’s to come for the Blackhawks, I wanted to touch on their upcoming opponents, Connor Murphy’s imminent return.
Let’s look at some quick numbers on CHI’s upcoming foes this week:
Vegas Golden Knights (11/13)
9-7-3 (21 points)
4th in Pacific Division
19th in GF (2.84)
15th in GA (2.95)
10th in shots for (33.4)
21st in shots against (32.3)
21st in faceoff % (48.9)
The Knights are already 1-0 vs. the Hawks as they won in a shootout on October 22nd.
This was a game where the Hawks actually played really well, however, MAF stole the show making some incredible saves.
It was great to see the Hawks play these guys well as last year Vegas dominated the season series going 3-0 over CHI, outscoring them 16-9.
VGK do put up a lot of shots so the Hawks goaltenders might want to get ready, but the good news is that they have had issues scoring in the early part of this season.
The Knights have lost 5 of their last 6 so a great opportunity for the Hawks to snag 2 points against a struggling team.
Nashville Predators (11/16)
9-6-3 (21 points)
3rd in Central Division
2nd in GF (3.78)
21st in GA (3.17)
14th in shots for (32.4)
4th in shots against (29.7)
9th in faceoff % (50.9)
BREAKING NEWS: The Chicago Blackhawks have opted to forfeit this game and just move on to Sunday.
Seriously though, what a test for Chicago coming up on Saturday night vs. this Preds team.
The Hawks were flat out embarrassed on October 29th with a 3-0 loss to Nashville. The score didn’t tell the true story because if Robin Lehner weren’t in net to make 48 saves, this one would have been ugly.
The Preds have actually lost 5 of their last 6 as well. They score a lot but have been giving up a lot of goals as well, highlighted by a 9-4 loss to Colorado last week.
They will be hungry to repeat their dominance over Chicago like last game so the Hawks will really have to weather the storm and honestly, if they are to win this game the game plan should just be to outscore the Preds.
Get ready for a 7-6 game!
Buffalo Sabres (11/17)
9-6-2 (20 points)
5th in Atlantic Division
17th in GF (2.88)
10th in GA (2.76)
22nd in shots for (30.3)
26th in shots against (33.2)
31st in faceoff % (46.7)
This Sabres team has had some solid goaltending early on this season with Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark already combining for 3 shutouts.
Ralph Krueger – the most interesting man in hockey – brings his Sabres into town on Sunday to try to get back into their winning ways; they have dropped their last 5(!) straight.
They will be coming off of a game at home vs. Ottawa so they will likely snap their streak vs. the Sens and then the Hawks don’t have to worry about that. However, if they lose… look out!
I would say watch out also for Jack Eichel – who has been magical at times this season – but he’s only registered 5 of his 19 points on the road this season.
This is a game the Hawks should win as they play the Sabres strong – mostly driven by Patrick Kane showing off to family and friends. They Hawks took both games last year vs. BUF.
As you can see above, even though the Hawks are playing solid teams this week, all 3 are struggling a bit and if the Hawks can continue to keep scoring and stopping 40+ shots a game, they have a chance to get on a roll here.
Connor Murphy participated in full practice this week and is close to returning.
He is available to return on Saturday vs. Nashville but I’m not sure it’s wise to toss him into that game. It could be quite the shooting gallery and I would want Murphy to make sure he’s 150% healthy before stepping into that matchup.
Murphy has proven to be very valuable to this team and groins injuries can be tricky (he’s already dealt with this in training camp) and it would be a shame to have this re-occur throughout the year.
However, I’m not a doctor, I just play one on this blog, so if he’s in on Saturday, he must be ready.
Who goes down when Murphy comes back?
The logical and most realistic choice is Adam Boqvist. He has been better than I anticipated in his short stint with the Hawks. There is nothing wrong with him going down and getting 20+ mins/game in the AHL though for now.
Injuries happen and I’m sure he’ll be back up again at some point this year.
See ya out there!