Can't wait until tomorrow to read the Canucks.com Tale of the Tape preview? Here's a sneak peak of the scouting report versus the Blackhawks.
After a bit of a sluggish start to the season through October and the early part of November, the Chicago Blackhawks are starting to recapture the form and swagger of the team that made it all the way to the Western Conference Final last season. In typical Blackhawks fashion (at least over the last year or so), they've done so by intimidating opposition defenders with their embarrassment of riches in offensively-gifted skaters.
The Blackhawks are among the top scoring teams in the Western Conference, but even that doesn't tell the whole story. They've managed to continue their scoring ways despite not having yet replaced Martin Havlat's 29 goals and team-leading 77 points from 2008.09. (His replacement, Marian Hossa, is expected to make his Blackhawks debut sometime on their current six-game road trip). They also had to deal with the absence of captain Jonathan Toews for six games earlier this season after he suffered a concussion during Chicago's last game against the Canucks.
While it's not surprising to see the two Patricks (Kane and Sharp) atop their leading scorers list, the Blackhawks have gotten plenty of contribution offensively from their entire lineup. With the exception of Colin Fraser, every Blackhawk player that has played 10-or-more games this season has recorded at least one goal.
What most people might find surprising about the Blackhawks is that they've also been one of the Western Conference's and the League's best teams in terms of goals against.
They have surrendered just 49 goals in 21 games played and a big reason for that has to do with the improved play of netminder Cristobal Huet. After giving up three-or-more goals in five of his first six starts of the season and looking like he was about to have his starter's role usurped by Antti Niemi, Huet has rebounded quite nicely giving up three-or-more goals in just two of his last 11 games.
There is a chance that the Canucks could see Antti Niemi in net tonight as Huet and the Blackhawks played last night in Edmonton although with three days off after this game in Vancouver, the Blackhawks may opt to continue to ride Huet's hot streak. Huet was solid last night in Edmonton stopping 25 of 27 shots in a 5-2 win. He did not start against the Canucks back on October 21st. Niemi played that night and made 28 saves on 31 shots in the losing effort. Niemi has not started since November 6th in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Read the complete Canucks.com Tale of the Tape preview here. (Updated on the morning of each game)