Preview: Blackhawks at Canadiens
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[January 11, 2014]
The Chicago Blackhawks have hit a
rare rough patch and will attempt to avoid matching a season-high
three-game winless streak when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on
Saturday night. The Blackhawks suffered a 3-2 home loss to the New York
Rangers on Wednesday to halt a 10-game point streak. It marked the third
setback in four games (1-1-2) for Chicago, which has relinquished its
lead atop the Central Division and dropped four points behind Anaheim in
the Western Conference.
The Canadiens are in the midst of a rugged 15-game stretch that
features 11 away contests but they have won the past five home
meetings with the Blackhawks dating to January 2003. Montreal is
coming off a 3-1 loss at Philadelphia and is 6-6-2 since ripping off
a season-best five-game winning streak early last month. The
Canadiens will be looking to get some production from their power
play after coming up empty on 11 straight chances with the extra
skater in the past three games.
TV: 7 p.m. NHL Network, CBC, WGN (Chicago), RDS (Montreal)
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (29-8-9): Leading scorer Patrick Kane already
has amassed point streaks of 14 and 12 games this season, but he has
only one assist in his last five contests. Coach Joel Quenneville
elevated Marcus Kruger to center Kane's line during Wednesday's loss
to the Rangers and will stay with the alignment for Saturday night's
matchup. “I appreciate the energy he brings, the consistency he
brings, the reliability on both sides of the puck,” Quenneville said
of Kruger. "I think he's really moved up the ladder in a lot of
people's eyes around this locker room.”
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ABOUT THE CANADIENS (25-15-5): Montreal coach Michel Therrien caused
quite a stir among team fans by benching superstar defenseman P.K.
Subban for the first half of the third period in the loss to
Philadelphia. Therrien downplayed the move - which was a result of
Subban taking a foolish penalty at the end of the second period -
and insisted his relationship with his top blue-liner is fine. "It's
not my job to worry about any of that," Subban said. "My job is to
play hockey and prepare for the next game. My job is to get ready
for (Saturday's) game and that's what I plan on focusing on."
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is riding a four-game point
streak and has four goals and 16 assists in his last 15
Canadiens G Carey Price is 4-0-2 in his last six but has
allowed at least four goals in three of his past four outings.
The Blackhawks are 11-2-3 against Eastern Conference
opponents while Montreal is 9-8-1 against the West.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Blackhawks 2
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