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Sharks at Blackhawks Preview: How the West was won

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Two playoff bound teams will provide a tough test to one another on Tuesday night. Who has the edge?

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

When you are the defending Stanley Cup champion, the decisions of your front office are magnified. The more they are magnified, the harder it is to let go of players that have had a direct impact on your winning ways. The measure of a good general manager is knowing when to cut your losses on a player, especially one you don't deem worthy of your core. The Blackhawks have done this over and over again and because of it, the team has been able to prosper.

A lot of the credit has to go to the Blackhawks scouting staff giving the team the ability to reload and one of the big boons of the offseason came courtesy of their work. Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov are players that have allowed the team to stay on an elite level even after losing players like Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. They give the team depth and score on a level no other second line in the league can claim. While Patrick Kane leads the league in scoring these two players aren't passengers but players that help steer the ship. Watch out for the most dynamic second line in hockey.

Tale Of The Tape

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27-20-4 Record 36-16-4
2nd in Pacific Rank 1st in Central
52.6%
Score-Adj. Fenwick 51.5%
99.8 PDO 101.7
22.1
PP% 20.6
80.4 PK% 82.7

5:30 PM PDT | United Center | Chicago, Illinois

TV: CSN-CA, CSN-CH, NHL.TV Radio: SJSharks.com98.5 KFOX

Know Your Enemy: Second City Hockey

Projected Sharks Lineup

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Melker Karlsson - Chris Tierney - Dainius Zubrus

Marc Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Projected Blackhawks Lineup

Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Andrew Desjardins - Phillip Danault - Teuvo Teravainen

Brandon Mashinter - Dennis Rasmussen - Richard Panik

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook

Trevor Van Riemsdyk - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Last Meeting

In the last meeting between the Sharks and Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews scored the game winner in OT. A stout performance from Crawford kept the Blackhawks in the game and saved their tail more often than not. Most impressively for the Blackhawks, they won this on a back-to-back. Joonas Donskoi of the Sharks had two points against the Blackhawks that evening.

Storylines

  • Can the Sharks avoid the season sweep?
  • Martin Jones allowed five goals on 29 shots last game. How will he rebound against an offensively skilled team like the Blackhawks?
  • The Blackhawks are looking for a fourth straight win courtesy of Corey Crawford. Can he keep up this Vezina like pace?