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Sharks vs. Blackhawks preview: This should be a good one

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Two of the conference's best teams, even if the standings don't currently reflect that, face off in Chicago.

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Less than 24 hours after an incredible comeback victory in Dallas, the Sharks will face a Blackhawks team who are basically what the Stars would be if they were better in every respect and had an actual blueline. But like the Stars, the Hawks are currently mired in a bit of a slump, having lost 6 of their last 9 games in regulation. That doesn't change the fact that they're absolutely frightening. Chicago is second in the league in puck possession and, frankly, are probably the best all-around team the NHL has to offer regardless of what the standings say right now. On the second half of a back-to-back, this is the Sharks' biggest test of the season so far and how they fare will be a good indicator of the extent to which their game has improved in recent weeks.

Tale Of The Tape
San Jose Sharks

@

Chicago Blackhawks
8-5-2, 18 points
Record 7-6-1, 15 points
5th in Pacific Rank 4th in Central
50.8%
Score-Adj. Fenwick 57.3%
100.9
PDO 98.7
26.0
PP% 19.6
80.4
PK% 92.9

4PM PST | United Center | Chicago, Illinois
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Second City HockeyThe Committed IndianCheer The AnthemHockeenight

Projected Sharks Lineup

Matt Nieto - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Tyler Kennedy
Tye McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller - Brent Burns
Matt Irwin - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Blackhawks Lineup

Ben Smith - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Marcus Kruger - Kris Versteeg
Peter Regin - Brad Richards - Jeremy Morin

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Trevor van Riemsdyk - David Rundblad

Corey Crawford
Antti Raanta

Last Meeting

Joe Thornton scored on a Datsyukian deke to win it in the shootout after one of the most entertaining 1-1 ties through regulation and overtime in recent memory. Corey Crawford made 39 saves for the Blackhawks as Brent Burns and Tommy Wingels each had seven shots on goal.

Storylines

  • Antoine Roussel will face a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety for what the league themselves termed a "sucker-punch" on Justin Braun. Here's the incident in case you missed it.
  • Antti Niemi likely gets the start in net against his former team on the second half of the back-to-back after Alex Stalock's brilliant 37-save effort yesterday.
  • Chicago suffered its third home loss in a row on Friday, allowing three goals in the final five minutes of the second period to Washington that erased a 2-0 Blackhawks lead. With the second-worst 5v5 shooting percentage in the league, it's hard to say most of the Hawks' recent struggles aren't just a product of bad luck.