On January 31st the Sharks will play host to The Chicago Blackhawks and you pal Ian is going to be Breaking It Down! This is your semi regular officially unofficial game preview post that gives you some quick numbers and my opinions on not only our Sharks but their opponent of the night.
Know Your Team - The San Jose Sharks
Current Record (W-L-OTL): 26-17-6, 58 Points and 2nd in the Pacific Division
Last 10 Games: 6-3-1
Power Play: 22.8% (8th.)
Penalty Kill: 81.9% (13th.)
Current Streak: 2 game winning streak.
Notes: Sharks are ahead of Vancouver by a point but Vancouver once again has 3 games in hand.
Know Your Enemy - Chicago Blackhawks
Current Record: (W-L-OTL): 31-16-2, 64 Points and 3rd in the Central Division
Last 10 Games: 5-5-0
Power Play: 17.4% (15th.)
Penalty Kill: 88.3% (24th.)
Current Streak: 1 game winning streak
Notes: The Blackhawks have a league best +42 Goal Differential (42 more goals for than against)
Ian Breaks Down The Blackhawks: If not for the LA Kings there is a very good chance that the question we are asking this year is can the Blackhawks make it 5 in a row. This is the team that in my opinion all other teams are measured by, a rebuild success story that is the reason that you tank, because you hope you come out as the Blackhawks on the other side. The problem is too few teams end up seeing that is a reality. While the 'hawks may now be 3rd in their division and maybe not having their best year they are probably a team that very few in the NHL want to face when the playoff puck drops. While their power play has not been its usual self, they continue to be a very good penalty killing team that is also 5th in the league when it comes to 5 on 5 scoring, so the Sharks who have relied on their power play heavily for offence will be in tough here. Being on the second night of back to backs it will be interesting to see if Cory Crawford makes a back to back start. Crawford is 5-2-3 with a 2.26 GAA and .926 SV% career vs. The Sharks. Although backup Antti Raanta has never started against the Sharks he is a very respectable 7-3-0 with a 1.87 GAA and .939 SV% on the year. The Sharks shooters will need to be on their game.
Ian Breaks Down The Sharks: The Sharks are on a very convincing 2 game winning streak with dominant wins over division rivals Los Angeles and Anaheim. Even though they are getting the benefit of playing the 'hawks on a second night of back to backs this is a team they cannot take too lightly and they can give them nothing to start the game. The Sharks are going to need to come out flying and maintain the pressure to make the most of this advantage. The Sharks continue to be without defenseman Justin Braun as well as forward Tommy Wingels but so far you would never know it watching this team play. Another player who has been just outstanding is Tennyson this is a guy who in my opinion should get to play regardless of who else is healthy at this point even if that makes a bottom par of Tennyson/Hannan, Irwin or Mueller. A bottom pair I am sick of seeing is Hannan/Irwin as was pointed out in the comments from the last GBU, they were on the ice for all 3 Ducks goals and while the team was a little relaxed with a big lead I think we can all agree this experiment has failed on multiple occasions.
My Prediction: I'm sticking with my original prediction for the week and that means this is going to be another Sharks win in convincing fashion so that when we are all talking about all the teams we are going to roll in the playoffs it's going to be an epic gut punch when the drop 8 goals and get shutout by the oilers bringing everyone back down to earth.
Remember if you have a question you would like me to answer in the Breaking It Down blog please e-mail me at email@example.com and if you want to read previous blogs please check out http://ianblogssharks.blogspot.ca
What are your thoughts on tonight's game?