CSN Chicago Blackhawks Pre/Postgame analyst Steve Konroyd gives his three keys to a Blackhawks' victory in Saturday's game against the San Jose Sharks.
1. Careful ... these Sharks are hungry:
The Sharks are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Not too uncommon in the NHL, but it is when you factor in that this high scoring offense has managed a total of just one goal in those three games. This from a team that scored 17 goals in it’s first the games of the season! San Jose is a team that likes to start fast, so the Hawks have to be ready, not like the first shift they put in against Vancouver on Wednesday night where they were scored on 16 seconds into the game. The Sharks have scored the second most 1st period goals and have allowed the fewest – so readiness is everything because it’s tough to play from behind with this team.
2. Special teams need to remain special:
I thought a turning point in the Hawks last game, their first win in five contests, was the play of their special teams. The power play went 2-for-3, and really helped turn the momentum of the game when they were down 2-0 and scored seven minutes into that frame with the extra man. They would then strike four times in eight minutes, and that was game, set and match for the Hawks in that one. The penalty kill remains strong and has not been scored on in seven straight games. Win your special teams and you will probably win the game.
3. Watch out – these Joe’s aren’t ordinary:
Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski are having special seasons. They rank Nos. 1 and 2 on the Sharks in scoring, they play on the same line and they are the engine that drives this team right now. Logan Couture has missed a dozen games since being injured in a contest against the Hawks back on Jan. 5, so the offense relies on the Joe’s. With Brent Burns being the third guy on their line, the trio has combined for 53 points in their last 19 games. They have size and tenacity, and it will probably be up to Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya to try and shut them down.