CSN Chicago's Blackhawks pre/postgame analyst Steve Konroyd gives his three keys to a Blackhawks' victory in Friday's game against the New York Islanders.
1. Support for the Bulin wall:
Nikolai Khabibulin is making his first start for the Chicago Blackhawks this year. With three games in four nights, this is a perfect situation to get him some work. He was impressive in his last start of last year, a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild while he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers. He stopped 38-of-39 shots in the win. First game jitters are always a concern – even for a 40-year old - and Khabibulin will need support from the guys in front of him.
2. Watch out for the Isles second line:
Everyone knows who John Tavares is, a runner-up for the Hart Trophy (league MVP) last year after a spectacular season. What you may not know is that their second line of Grabner, Nielsen, and Bailey have recorded 15 points in their first three games. They possess speed and good puck savvy, and Hjalmarsson and Oduya will have to be aware of their speed to the outside.
3. Penalty Kill needs to step it up:
We all know that one of the leagues elite penalty killing teams from last year is now ranked last in the league. A combination of bad penalties, poor faceoffs, missed shot blocks, and lack of confidence has this team questioning themselves when down a man. Nothing cures a struggling penalty kill like not only killing all your penalties, but getting a few chances shorthanded too.