Hello, Blackhawks. Long time no see.
Just over a week ago, these two teams met at the United Center. Talbot, O'Reilly, and Barrie scored before Stastny sealed the deal with an empty netter for the 4-2 win. That W clinched the season series in the Avs favor, taking 6 of the 8 points available from the team from Chicago and only ceding 3 in return. The Avs just seem to have their number, especially when not returning from a break. Only 3 teams have given the Hawks more fits this season: St. Louis, Minnesota, and the NY Rangers.
To say tonight will be a "big" game is a bit of an understatement. Unless the standings drastically change in the last 16 or so games of the season, this is a preview of a first round playoff series. Also, a win or an overtime loss for the Avs would move Colorado ahead of Chicago in the standings and one step closer to home ice advantage. On the other hand, a loss would add separation and make overtaking the Hawks that much more difficult down the stretch.
Neither team will be at full strength, however. The injury bug has bitten both clubs, claiming key players like Tanguay, Parenteau, and Stastny for the Avs and Marian Hossa for the Hawks. As a result, the Avalanche recalled two players since their last game: forwards Brad Malone and Paul Carey. Malone played 15 games with the Avs earlier this year, but Carey will be making his NHL debut tonight. According to Coach Roy, both players will be on the 4th line. In case you missed it, our very own earl06 gave us some insight into what Malone and Carey might bring to the lineup tonight.
Also worth noting is that Second City Hockey (the Hawks blog) is doing a stat series focused on the leaders of the Central Division. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here. If you head over to get into the stats vs. systems debate, please be nice. You're representing MHH, and we'd rather not be known as petulant trolls across the SB Nation network.
Morning Twitter Updates:
Varlamov has 99 wins; looks to become 4th Russian-born goaltender in NHL history to reach 100 (Nabokov 347, Khabibulin 333, Bryzgalov 213)— Brendan McNicholas (@bmcnich) March 12, 2014
@Avalanche well, you have me a really tough canvas to work with today.— Scott Parkin (@c6hor8) March 12, 2014
Avs have 12 healthy forwards again so defensemen Cory Sarich & Ryan Wilson will be scratched tonight against Blackhawks. #ColoradoAvalanche— Rick Sadowski (@RickS7) March 12, 2014