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Penguins vs. Blackhawks Game Preview

Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 7:30 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Blackhawks Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
35-19-4-72
Home: 20-10-1-41
Road: 15-9-3-33

WHEN: Feb. 20, 2011 - 3:30 pm   |   WHERE: United Center
WATCH:
NBC  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Chicago Blackhawks
Overall:
29-23-6-64
Home: 17-14-0-34
Road:
12-9-6-30

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks 
 
      
Patrick Sharp
LW  -  #10
  30 Goals
  22 Assists
  52 Points
• Excels on the power play, as he’s netted 12 tallies with the man-advantage – which ranks third in the league – while averaging a team-leading 3:34 minutes on the power play.

• The sniper has tallied at least 20 goals in each of the past five seasons since the lockout, with his best total coming in 2007-08 when he dented the net 36 times.

• Was named the MVP of the 2011 NHL All-Star Game after recording three points (1G-2A) in his All-Star debut.
 
Jonathan Toews
C  -  #19
  19 Goals
  33 Assists
  52 Points
• Is utilized in all situations, as he’s second among Chicago forwards with an average of 2:04 shorthanded minutes per game and is third on the team with an average of 3:16 power-play minutes.

• Was named Best Forward of the 2010 Winter Olympics – where he won a gold medal with Team Canada – before earning the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP (scoring 29 points through 22 games) last season after Chicago captured the Stanley Cup.

• Is currently the youngest captain in the NHL at 22 years old, as he was awarded the “C” following his rookie campaign.
 
Brent Seabrook
D  -  #7
  4 goals
  27 assists
  31 points
• The stay-at-home blueliner – in his sixth NHL season – was drafted by Chicago in the first round (14th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft.

• Won a gold medal for Team Canada playing alongside Chicago teammate Duncan Keith at the 2010 Winter Olympics in his native Vancouver.

• Recorded a career-high four goals and seven assists in 22 games last season while anchoring the blue line alongside Keith during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks are struggling to repeat last season’s success and are desperate for wins, as they currently rank 11th in the ever-tight Western Conference with 64 points – two wins out of the eighth and final postseason berth.

Last summer, due to salary cap constraints the Blackhawks were forced to unload players that played a key role in last season’s championship run – namely Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta, Kris Versteeg to Toronto and goaltender Antti Niemi to San Jose. But despite their frenetic offseason activity that shook up their roster, the defending Stanley Cup champions are still a talent-laden team that boasts impressive depth all over their lineup.

The Blackhawks have one of the league’s most dangerous top lines in left wing Patrick Sharp, center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane. The trio combined for all three goals and eight points in the Blackhawks’ last game – a 4-3 loss to Columbus on Friday – and they’re the top-three producers on Chicago’s scoring chart. Sharp especially has been stepping up offensively, as he’s tied for fourth in the league with 30 goals. He’s deadlocked with Toews for the team scoring lead with 52 points while the dynamic Kane sits in third with 49 points.

Chicago also has one of the NHL's best one-two punches on the blue line in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The two defensemen – paired together for most of the 2009-10 campaign but who have been split up this season – log monster minutes for their team, as Keith is averaging 26:45 of ice time per game while Seabrook skates for an average of 24:30 minutes. Keith, last season’s Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman, is a strong skater that likes to activate the rush and chip in offensively (as evidenced by the 69 points he piled up last season). Seabrook, on the other hand, has made a niche for himself as a dependable stay-at-home defenseman.

Rookie goaltender Corey Crawford has been playing well between the pipes for Chicago, backstopping his way to a 2.16 goals-against average (fourth among NHL netminders) and .921 save percentage (tied for seventh). He's joined by 35-year-old Marty Turco, acquired from Dallas last summer to add experience and a veteran presence to a young goaltending corps.
  • Chicago will be without head coach Joel Quenneville behind the bench for a third-straight game, as he was hospitalized with a stomach ulcer on Feb. 16. Quenneville, 52, was released from the hospital on Saturday and his doctors are still working to determine when it will be best for him to return to his coaching duties. Assistant coach Mike Haviland has been acting head coach in Quenneville's stead.
  • This is the only meeting of the season between the last two Stanley Cup champions. Each of the past three meetings between the two teams has gone into overtime. The Penguins are 9-2-3 in their past 14 meetings with the Blackhawks. Since the start of the 1999-2000 season, Pittsburgh is 4-2-1 at United Center.
  • Last season, the Blackhawks pulled out a 2-1 victory at Mellon Arena on a game-winning goal by Kris Versteeg. The Penguins earned a 5-4 overtime win in their last trip to the United Center on February 27, 2009 when Evgeni Malkin scored the game-winning goal on a power play. Pittsburgh won the only shootout contest between the two teams, 5-4, on Feb. 14, 2007 at Mellon Arena. Erik Christensen and Malkin scored the only goals of the shootout.
  • Pittsburgh owns a 9-4-1 record this season against the Western Conference and a 3-1-1 mark against Central Division foes. The Penguins' .679 winning percentage against the West is the best mark in the Eastern Conference.
  • The Penguins enter Sunday's game having scored at least one power-play goal in seven of the previous 11 games. During that stretch the Penguins are 9-for-46 (19.6 percent). Over their past eight road games the Penguins are clicking at a 33.3-percent clip (10-for-30) on the man-advantage.
  • Sunday's game marks the front end of the Penguins’ 12th set of back-to-back games. Pittsburgh owns a 15-5-2 overall record in back-to-backs so far this season, with an 8-3 record the first night and a 7-2-2 mark the second night. The Penguins have five sets of back-to-backs left.

 

      
Shut Down Their Power Play: The Hawks have the second-most efficient power play in the National Hockey League, as it’s been clicking at a 24.4-percent success rate. Chicago has recorded 50 power-play goals through 57 games this season – in contrast, the 2009-10 Blackhawks scored 52 power-play goals in 82 games. Chicago has also converted with the man-advantage at a league-best 26.6-percent success rate at the United Center. The Penguins will need to shut down Patrick Sharp – whose 13 power-play tallies lead the Hawks – as well as Troy Brouwer and Jonathan Toews, who have seven apiece. They’ll also need to keep Duncan Keith in their sights, as he quarterbacks the power play from the blue line.

Come Out Flying: Pittsburgh enters Sunday’s game fresh off a three-day break from game action. It can be tough to get the wheels going right away after stretches like that, and the Penguins will need to find their legs early and come out flying against a desperate Chicago squad looking for much-needed points to bolster their playoff hopes.
F Arron Asham, upper body (IR)
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Dustin Jeffrey, lower body (IR)
F Nick Johnson, upper body (day-to-day)
F Chris Kunitz, lower body (IR)
F Mark Letestu, lower body (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss remainder of season)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion-like symptoms (indefinitely)

C Ryan Johnson, concussion (indefinitely)
F Fernando Pisani, head (indefinitely)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Sharp (30)
A
Letang (37) Toews (33)
PTS
Crosby (66) Sharp/Toews (52)
PIM
Cooke (106) Dowell (56)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Campbell (+21)
PP
Crosby (10) Sharp (12)
SH
Three tied with (2)
Sharp (2)
W/L
Fleury (27-14-2)
Crawford (18-12-3)
GAA
Fleury (2.30) Crawford (2.16)
SVP
Fleury (.920) Crawford (.921)

Tyler Kennedy - Kennedy’s game-winning goal in overtime on Feb. 16 against Colorado – scored on the power play with 50 seconds remaining in the extra period – marked his fifth tally in the past seven games. Kennedy has been stepping up in an expanded role for the Penguins, making the most of his added time on the power play as four of his five goals over that stretch have been tallied with the man-advantage. He’s also been getting pucks to the net, as he’s fourth on the team (and second among healthy Penguins) with 161 shots.
 
Patrick Kane - Kane put forth a three-point effort on Friday against Columbus, scoring a goal and adding two helpers in his team’s 4-3 loss. He has been absolutely red-hot during the month of February, as he has six goals and 12 points in his last eight contests dating back to Feb. 1. The fast-skating sniper, who paced the Blackhawks with 88 points (30G-58A) last season, has already racked up 49 points (19G-30A) through 49 games despite missing eight contests due to injury in December.
 
 
 
 

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WHEN: Feb. 20, 2011 - 3:30 pm
WHERE: United Center
WATCH: NBC
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

The Chicago Blackhawks are struggling to repeat last season's success and are desperate for wins, as they currently rank 11th in the ever-tight Western Conference with 64 points – two wins out of the eighth and final postseason berth.

Last summer, due to salary cap constraints the Blackhawks were forced to unload players that played a key role in last season's championship run – namely Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta, Kris Versteeg to Toronto and goaltender Antti Niemi to San Jose. But despite their frenetic offseason activity that shook up their roster, the defending Stanley Cup champions are still a talent-laden team that boasts impressive depth all over their lineup.

The Blackhawks have one of the league's most dangerous top lines in left wing Patrick Sharp, center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane. The trio combined for all three goals and eight points in the Blackhawks' last game – a 4-3 loss to Columbus on Friday – and they're the top-three producers on Chicago's scoring chart. Sharp especially has been stepping up offensively, as he's tied for fourth in the league with 30 goals. He's deadlocked with Toews for the team scoring lead with 52 points while the dynamic Kane sits in third with 49 points.

Chicago also has one of the NHL's best one-two punches on the blue line in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The two defensemen – paired together for most of the 2009-10 campaign but who have been split up this season – log monster minutes for their team, as Keith is averaging 26:45 of ice time per game while Seabrook skates for an average of 24:30 minutes. Keith, last season's Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenseman, is a strong skater that likes to activate the rush and chip in offensively (as evidenced by the 69 points he piled up last season). Seabrook, on the other hand, has made a niche for himself as a dependable stay-at-home defenseman.

Rookie goaltender Corey Crawford has been playing well between the pipes for Chicago, backstopping his way to a 2.16 goals-against average (fourth among NHL netminders) and .921 save percentage (tied for seventh). He's joined by 35-year-old Marty Turco, acquired from Dallas last summer to add experience and a veteran presence to a young goaltending corps.


INTERESTING STATS

* Chicago will be without head coach Joel Quenneville behind the bench for a third-straight game, as he was hospitalized with a stomach ulcer on Feb. 16. Quenneville, 52, was released from the hospital on Saturday and his doctors are still working to determine when it will be best for him to return to his coaching duties. Assistant coach Mike Haviland has been acting head coach in Quenneville's stead.

* This is the only meeting of the season between the last two Stanley Cup champions. Each of the past three meetings between the two teams has gone into overtime. The Penguins are 9-2-3 in their past 14 meetings with the Blackhawks. Since the start of the 1999-2000 season, Pittsburgh is 4-2-1 at United Center.

* Last season, the Blackhawks pulled out a 2-1 victory at Mellon Arena on a game-winning goal by Kris Versteeg. The Penguins earned a 5-4 overtime win in their last trip to the United Center on February 27, 2009 when Evgeni Malkin scored the game-winning goal on a power play. Pittsburgh won the only shootout contest between the two teams, 5-4, on Feb. 14, 2007 at Mellon Arena. Erik Christensen and Malkin scored the only goals of the shootout.

* Pittsburgh owns a 9-4-1 record this season against the Western Conference and a 3-1-1 mark against Central Division foes. The Penguins' .679 winning percentage against the West is the best mark in the Eastern Conference.

* The Penguins enter Sunday's game having scored at least one power-play goal in seven of the previous 11 games. During that stretch the Penguins are 9-for-46 (19.6 percent). Over their past eight road games the Penguins are clicking at a 33.3-percent clip (10-for-30) on the man-advantage.

* Sunday's game marks the front end of the Penguins' 12th set of back-to-back games. Pittsburgh owns a 15-5-2 overall record in back-to-backs so far this season, with an 8-3 record the first night and a 7-2-2 mark the second night. The Penguins have five sets of back-to-backs left.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Shut Down Their Power Play: The Hawks have the second-most efficient power play in the National Hockey League, as it's been clicking at a 24.4-percent success rate. Chicago has recorded 50 power-play goals through 57 games this season – in contrast, the 2009-10 Blackhawks scored 52 power-play goals in 82 games. Chicago has also converted with the man-advantage at a league-best 26.6-percent success rate at the United Center. The Penguins will need to shut down Patrick Sharp – whose 13 power-play tallies lead the Hawks – as well as Troy Brouwer and Jonathan Toews, who have seven apiece. They'll also need to keep Duncan Keith in their sights, as he quarterbacks the power play from the blue line.

Come Out Flying: Pittsburgh enters Sunday's game fresh off a three-day break from game action. It can be tough to get the wheels going right away after stretches like that, and the Penguins will need to find their legs early and come out flying against a desperate Chicago squad looking for much-needed points to bolster their playoff hopes.


WHO'S HOT

Tyler Kennedy - Kennedy's game-winning goal in overtime on Feb. 16 against Colorado – scored on the power play with 50 seconds remaining in the extra period – marked his fifth tally in the past seven games. Kennedy has been stepping up in an expanded role for the Penguins, making the most of his added time on the power play as four of his five goals over that stretch have been tallied with the man-advantage. He's also been getting pucks to the net, as he's fourth on the team (and second among healthy Penguins) with 161 shots.

Patrick Kane - Kane put forth a three-point effort on Friday against Columbus, scoring a goal and adding two helpers in his team's 4-3 loss. He has been absolutely red-hot during the month of February, as he has six goals and 12 points in his last eight contests dating back to Feb. 1. The fast-skating sniper, who paced the Blackhawks with 88 points (30G-58A) last season, has already racked up 49 points (19G-30A) through 49 games despite missing eight contests due to injury in December.

Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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