Tonight the Blackhawks come hobbling into to Denver to take on an exasperated Avalanche team. Both clubs are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak. However they are two completely different streaks. Chicago’s streak has consisted of mostly road blowouts; four out of the five games in fact Chicago has been pummeled on the road. Colorado’s streak has consisted of one-goal losses in each of their last five games.
The Blackhawks have been licking their wounds after suffering back-to-back losses at the hands of the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. In fact, some may remember the Edmonton game and an Oiler named Sam Gagner. In case the name has slipped some of your memories, he is the Edmonton Oiler that scored 8 points against the ‘Hawks, a feat that has not been duplicated since the 1988 season.
That may have seemed like pouring some salt into the wound to Blackhawk fans and I apologize. The news has not been much better on the Avalanche side of the fence let me tell you. The Avs have lost the past five games, each by one goal. The last game against Vancouver, Colorado had a 2-1 lead going late into the third period but ended up losing to the Canucks in a shootout.
So what we have here are two very similar but different clubs. Chicago is struggling to find their identity and Colorado has turned up the intensity, but has fallen short in the previous five games. The Avs need to take advantage of the road wary Blackhawks. The ‘Hawks have been on the road since January 31 and will play their next 5 games away from the United Center, not returning to the “Madhouse” until February 19. That is 9 games and 19 total days that the ‘Hawks have been away from home.
Bottom line tonight is that the Avalanche need to capitalize on this golden opportunity to end their skid. With Peter Mueller and Tyson Barrie scheduled to lace up the skates, the Avs will have some creative combinations on their lines. Joe Sacco hopes that by mixing up some matchups it gives his club the extra boost they need to pull out the victory. One club will walk out of Pepsi Center tonight ending their winless streak; the other will continue their free-fall through the West.
Just an FYI…Chicago is on a 19-day road trip thanks to Disney on Ice taking over the United Center.
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