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Game 66 Preview: Avs vs. Blackhawks

The Avs face the defending Stanley Cup Champions in an important Central Division match-up tonight at 7:30 MT.

Doug Pensinger

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.

Projected Lineups:



Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Andrew Shaw
Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Peter Regin - Kris Versteeg
Brandon Bollig -Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Defensive Pairings

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival


Antti Raanta



Ryan O`Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn
Gabe Landeskog - John Mitchell - Nathan MacKinnon
Jamie McGinn (or Max Talbot, silly typos) - Marc-Andre Cliche - Cody McLeod
Patrick Bordeleau - Brad Malone - Paul Carey

Defensive Pairings

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie
Nate Guenin - Cory Sarich - Andre Benoit


Semyon Varlamov

Game Time:

It's a bit later tonight. Puck drop is at 7:30 MT at the Pepsi Center.

Morning Twitter Updates: