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Game Day Take Two: Hawks vs Sabres

January 18, 2024, 9:40 PM ET [163 Comments]
Zach Jarom
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Hawks are back at it tonight as they are in Buffalo, taking on the Sabres. This game was originally scheduled for last night but was postponed due to weather issues thanks to the nasty winter storm that has been just dumping snow in Buffalo. This was a game before the season started that I was looking forward to. The Sabres seemed to be finally treading in the right direction, having key pieces locked down and an exciting young goalie prospect in Devi Levi. I hoped that they would make the jump and be fighting for a playoff spot this year. However, that hasn’t been the case this year. I don’t closely follow this team, so I don’t know the full details of what is going on in Buffalo, but I will say that one thing is clear: they have been a great disappointment. Coming into this one, they have a record of 19-21-4, which puts them in 7th place and 9 points out of the last divisional playoff spot in a very tough Atlantic Division. They are 5-4-1 over their last ten games, with their last game ending in a 3-0 win over the lowly Sharks. Playing back-to-back games against the worst two teams in the league is a good way to get some momentum and pick up some much-needed points. Players to watch would be forwards Casey Mittelstadt, Tage Thompson, and Alex Tuch. Middelstadt has 38 points in 44 games and is well on his way to passing his career high of 59 points. Thompson is just an absolute goal scorer who is having a bit of an off season due to injuries, and Tuch is a New York native who loves playing in Buffalo and can change a game in an instant. As for defense, obviously you are going to want to watch the two former first overall picks, Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power. The Sabres will have Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen between the pipes, and he comes into this one sporting a 10-9-2 record with a.906 SV% and two shutouts.

As for the Hawks, they are coming off a win against the Sharks on Tuesday that took nine shootout rounds to determine the winner. The Hawks, for the 4th straight game, only managed one goal, and it was one that they are lucky to have gotten: a powerplay goal from Guttman as he whiffed on a between-the-legs shot that went off a Sharks player in front and into the net. They don’t ask just how many and how many are there, and it's starting to get a little bit frustrating despite knowing that there isn’t much offense in the lineup right now. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Petr Mrazek played a fantastic game. Stopping 37 of 38 shots and all 9 attempts in the shootout, he just continues to make his case for either a trade to a contender come deadline time or, if the Hawks are going to extend him, a nice pay pump, which I will take the latter of those options there.

The only information I have seen so far regarding tonight's lineup is that Connor Murphy will again be a scratch as he continues to deal with a lower body injury. Nikita Zaistev is the last Hawk to find his way onto the IR, and in a corresponding move, the Hawks called up Louis Crevier from Rockford. With the Hawks playing again tomorrow and tonight being the “easier” matchup, I anticipate Arvid Soderblom to get the nod in the net. He is coming off two good performances, but he hasn’t played since January 5th against the Devils. Hopefully, he has been able to find some confidence in those last few games and is able to keep it going in this one. Let's also really hope that he gets some offensive support.

That’s going to be it from me; puck drop is set for 6 p.m. central time, and because this game was originally supposed to be on TNT, this game will be called by Brendan Burke, so a nice night off from Vosters! As always, let's go Hawks!

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