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Blackhawks Tue Feb 19 2013

Blackhawks Shoot for Record Tonight Against Canucks

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The Blackhawks are looking to tie an NHL record for starting the season without a regulation loss at 16 games, set by the Anaheim Ducks during the 2006-07 season. There's no doubt that Joel Quenneville's squad has been playing lights out after opening the first 15 games with an astounding 12-0-3 record, but they shouldn't let this be a distraction.

There's no doubt the Hawks will suffer a regulation loss this season. It has to happen. It defies all logic and every set of odds that they would go unbeaten in regulation, even in a shortened season such as this.

The hated Vancouver Canucks roll into town this evening and will try to extinguish the fire of Patrick Kane, Jonathan "Buster" Toews, and a red hot Ray Emery, who will start again in place of an injured Corey Crawford. The last time these two teams faced each other, the Blackhawks "lost" in a shootout back on February 1.

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The key will be getting to cry baby Roberto "Bobby Lu" Luongo, who has actually been playing well as of late. He basically shut down the Hawks earlier this month, but that was on home ice. Luongo has had some epic struggles on the West side, and nothing short of watching him skate away to the bench in place of Brian Schneider would be suffice.

The fans will be into this one from warmups to the final horn, as they should. Heck, I'll be watching and hoping for a 6-0 shutout while crying for more, but this team has had a way of getting too far ahead of itself over a big game. At the halfway point of this home stand, the Hawks need to focus on this important issue at hand: Two points.

Gaining two points in the standings and keeping the streak alive go hand in hand. However, creating chaos on the ice over the streak is what could lead to a tailspin.

The Hawks have had two very key components on their side throughout their stellar play: no injuries (knock on wood), and defense. They are third in the league in penalty kills at 89.1 percent (Boston leads the league with Ottawa in second). As anyone who watches hockey knows, killing penalties is above and beyond one of the most important things a team can do to be successful.

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An let's not forget about rookie Brandon Saad, who's been drawing penalties with his speed -- on the NUMBER ONE LINE! That's pretty awesome and studly for a 20-year-old kid, who looks like he's never shaved.

This team can go as far as it wants, but needs to maintain the focus. Yes, it sucks that coach Q has his team lay back when they're up 3-0, which then allows the opponent to sneak back and make it interesting. But is it working? You bet. Will that continue to work? Probably not.

Tonight marks the completion of one-third of the season. Keeping the streak alive is cool. Staying healthy come playoff time is even better.

 
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