1. Watch out for Colorado’s young guns. The Avalanche are a young, fast and talented team. Four of their top six point producers are 22 years of age and younger. Nate MacKinnon just turned 18 in September and will be a star in this league for years to come. They are high-energy and high-octane when they have it going. It will be up to the Blackhawks to keep these youngsters in check. Take away their time and space with stifling defense. Don’t give them room with bad gaps, make them beat you with great plays.
2. Puck possession is a priority. The last time these two teams met in mid November it was an ugly game. The work ethic was there, but the Hawks' puck management wasn’t. The Avs' first three goals came on direct turnovers from the Blackhawks, and it was 3-0 just 13 minutes into the game. It was 5-0 when Chicago scored later in the third period. Treat the puck like it’s a $100 bill, and don’t be giving it away needlessly. The Hawks did a masterful job of this in their last game against New Jersey, where they allowed just 12 shots on net the entire game and had the puck for most of the contest.
3. Continue the impressive “O” from your stingy “D.” Blackhawks defensemen have been a big part of the offense of late. They have scored three goals in the last three games and have combined to put up 28 points in their last eight contests. Throw out the ugly loss in Toronto, and they have given up just 14 goals in the other seven games. That great defense is supplying plenty of offense. Nick Leddy leads the defensemen with five goals, and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook sit second and sixth, respectively, among all NHL defensemen when it comes to points. Keep feeding your D.