Konroyd's keys for Blackhawks-Devils

Konroyd's keys for Blackhawks-Devils
January 3, 2014, 1:45 pm
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Steve Konroyd

1. Score first. The Blackhawks are an impressive 22-0-5 when scoring the game’s first goal. It certainly would have helped last night when they outshot the Islander’s 12 to five, out chanced them seven to three, and outplayed them in the first 20 minutes but were not able to stop 38-year old Evgeny Nabakov. Instead they trailed, and that gave the Isle’s some confidence and momentum for the rest of the game. Tonight it should be the 42-year old future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur between the pipes. He has given up just one goal in each of his last two games. Get to him early with the game’s first goal.

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2. Special teams will be a story. The Blackhawks scored another power-play goal last night, and have scored at least one in 14 of their last 16 games. They are up against the second best penalty killing unit at home in the New Jersey Devils, and have only given up one power-play goal in their last 18 kills. A 91.5 % kill rate at home is outstanding, and the Hawks will have to be shooting and retrieving pucks if they want to have any kind of success with the man advantage.

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3:  Beware Devils’ second line. The last time these two teams played just 11 nights ago, New Jersey was without a top six forward in Ryan Clowe. He missed 32-straight games including that game against the Hawks, but he is back and contributing on New Jersey’s second line with Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. They combined for both goals and five points in their team’s last game, a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This gives the Devils a lot more depth, and they should manage more than the 12 shots they had on Antil Raanta at the United Center. They were embarrassed in that 5–2 loss, and you should see a strong push back by New Jersey.