Weekend Match-ups: Blackhawks vs. New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres Cheat Sheet

The Blackhawks are coming off their first regular season loss against the St. Louis Blues, healing but it’s time to put that behind us and gear up for our weekend match-ups. The Hawks will host the New York Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres, treatment playing back-to-back games Friday and Saturday nights at the UC.

 

What You Need To Know:

  • These are two pretty unfamiliar foes. The Hawks haven’t played against the Islanders since 2011, and haven’t faced the Sabres since February 2012. The Islanders (2-0-1) are coming off a decisive 6-1 victory of the Phoenix Coyotes and are looking good to start the season. The Hawks have won their last three meetings against the Islanders, but this will be a good test for a team looking to avoid a losing streak. The Sabres started the season 0-3-1, and haven’t looked great so far. They’ve been in several games, but have struggled to find the net.
  • After finishing top three in the league in 2012-2013, the Blackhawks penalty kill has looked human so far this season. They’ve allowed four short handed goals this season, landing them in last place with a 44.3% kill rate. It looks like losing Michael Frolik on the penalty kill will be a little more painful than we thought.

Who To Watch: Islanders and Sabres


Islanders:

  • Forward Michael Grabner leads the team with 6 points through 3 games, and he’ll be coming into the United Center hot.
  • Hart Trophy Finalist and new Captain John Tavares is the Islanders most dangerous player. The center scored two goals in his last game and will certainly keep the Hawks blue line (and Jonathan Toews) busy on Friday night.

Sabres 

  • Forward Thomas Vanek scored a SICK between the legs goal on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s been the Sabres’ best offensive player so far this year, and it’s not hard to see why with moves like that.

Who to Watch: The Hawks

  • Not too surprisingly, Patrick Kane is starting the season hot. He has three goals in his first three games,
  • Backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (pronounced HA-BEY-BOO-LIN) will get his first start of the season and his first for the Hawks since 2009 on Friday night. With back-to-back games, Corey Crawford will get the night off to rest. The 40 year old Russian  played for the Hawks from 2005-2009 and was re-signed this offseason.
  • With his wife set to deliver any day now, Patrick Sharp could miss either game for the birth of his second daughter. (Sigh, we love a family man!) The Hawks will certainly miss the winger, but an early congrats to Patrick and his wife Abby!

Your Take Away Piece

“It’s far too early for anyone to panic about the Blackhawks, it’s a full season! This is still a very, very good team, and a 1-1-1 start is not time to panic. Coach Q and the team will certainly come out with a renewed fire on Friday night.”

“You’ve got to get that game to overtime,” said Coach Quenneville after Wednesday’s loss. “You take one (point) maybe two. You don’t get none. That’s unacceptable.”

The Hawks are used to playing on a shortened schedule, and back to back games could favor them. I certainly don’t see this team hitting a skid anytime soon, they’re still juggling lines and figuring out how to fill the voids left by Stalberg, Bolland and Frolik.

What’s Next:

Puck drops at 7:00 on Friday on CSN Chicago.

Puck drops again at 7:00 PM on Saturday, and you can get the game on WGN.

Category: Blackhawks

About the author: Rachel Musnicki hails from the Chicago suburbs. A die-hard Chicago sports fan, she is known for her obsession with the Blackhawks. Rachel is finishing up her senior year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is working towards a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She previously interned with Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Rachel still dreams of being an Olympian, though is starting to realize she may never make it as a beach volleyball star. One of her favorite sports memories is going to a Stanley Cup Final Game in 2010 and watching the Blackhawks defeat the Flyers. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelMusnicki

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