WHERE: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
WHEN: 7 PM EDT
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Second City Hockey
Shortly after their win in St. Paul yesterday afternoon, the Bolts boarded a plane and flew south to Chicago for their second game in as many nights -- they go toe-to-toe with the Chicago Blackhawks this evening in crucial contest for the 'Hawks. Chicago currently clings to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings right now:
|San Jose Sharks||78||46-23-9||101|
|Detroit Red Wings||78||45-23-10||100|
|Los Angeles Kings||78||45-27-6||96|
|St. Louis Blues||78||35-33-10||80|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||78||34-31-13||81|
They aren't just jockeying for a higher seed with the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators, but they are also trying to keep and exceed the pace of the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars who still have a shot eking their way into the playoff picture.
Every game and every point is vital to their playoff survival.
This is the second meeting between the two clubs this season, and Chicago wasn't exactly happy with the outcome of their meeting in Tampa in mid-March. "Controversial Goal" was the label affixed to Martin St. Louis' shoot-out winning tally. Will it be a motivating factor for the 'Hawks tonight? How about their fans at United Center (where the Bolts are 4-10-0-2 all-time)?
The playoffs are in the air in this final weekend of NHL action, but is revenge as well?
Speaking of Marty St. Louis, he's got 18 points in the last 13 games and is one point shy of matching his 2003-04, Hart Trophy winning point total (94 points). In more unrealistic terms, he's nine points behind his career high point total from the 2006-07 season (102 points). While the Vancouver Canucks Daniel Sedin should be a shoe-in for the Hart Trophy this year, Marty has made his case all season long by both direct scores and supporting others efforts.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 29 of 30 shots faced yesterday in St. Paul. The plan was for Mike Smith to get the start in net for the Lightning tonight, and I have heard nothing that would alter the plan.
On special teams: The Blackhawks are 2nd in the NHL with the man-advantage. They're converting 24% of power play opportunities. The Bolts, while still ranked 6th in the NHL, have seen their conversion rate fall percentage-wise to 20.4%. On the other side of the special-team coin, the Bolts are 11th in the NHL with an 83.5% kill-rate when down a man. The Blackhawks are ranked 25th in the league, stopping opposing power plays 79.3% of the time.
And finally, in the Rocket Richard scoring-race update: Corey Perry is still at 46 goals for the season. Steven Stamkos remains at 44 goals scored, with four games remaining in the Lightning season.
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