When the Blackhawks play in Denver on Friday night, there’s a strong chance fans of both teams will simply be scouting for the following week’s first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Currently, the Avs sit eighth in the West, two points ahead of the Calgary Flames. Not only do the Avalanche have a game in-hand, but they have two wins more than the Flames and Calgary has only three left on their schedule.
The Blackhawks and Avalanche have played three times so far in 2009-10, and all three have ended in a shootout. In what might be an intriguing twist of fate, the one game the Hawks lost to Colorado this year was the one of the three that Antti Niemi started; Cristobal Huet is 2-0-0 with two shootout victories over the Avs this year.
Another stunning irony from the three previous games between Chicago and Colorado is that, of the eight goals scored by the Hawks in regulation, two (or 25%) were scored by Cam Barker. Barker, of course, will be watching the Hawks on television like the rest of us after being dealt to Minnesota before the Olympics.
For Colorado, their biggest trade deadline acquisition, Peter Mueller, is reportedly out for the rest of the regular season because of concussion problems. He was hit late in the Avs overtime win over the San Jose Sharks over the weekend and did not return to action that night.