BLACKHAWKS (7-7-1) at THRASHERS (6-5-2)
TV: FS-D+ (HD), SNET-EDM (HD)
Chicago 5-5-0; Atlanta 5-3-2
This is the first and only meeting of the season. Last season, Chicago won 5-4 at home in a shootout on Feb. 13.
It's the defending Stanley Cup champions against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Cup resides in Chicago, but there are plenty of faces in Atlanta who were part of that championship. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel were all major contributors during the Blackhawks' Cup run a year ago who now call Atlanta home.
"Those guys, some of them were my best friends on the team last year," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane
said. "It'll be fun to see them."
It's been a struggle to find consistency this season. That's not a surprise considering how many new faces are on the roster, but a home loss to the down-and-out New Jersey Devils on Wednesday might've been the low point.
"I don't know why it's like that," forward Viktor Stalberg
said. "You've got to take pride in getting better starts. It doesn't matter who's out there. Especially on home ice, we've got to take advantage of our crowd. We've got probably the best fans in the League, and we've got to get them involved in the game. We've got to have better starts to do that."
This will be just the sixth home game for Atlanta so far, and the club hasn't exactly been tearing it up at Philips Arena, dropping three of the first five. That included a lackluster 3-0 loss Thursday to Columbus in which the final score could have been a lot worse if Ondrej Pavelec hadn't stopped 39 shots.
"Individually, we're not winning enough battles," coach Craig Ramsay said one night after his team allowed 55 shots at Florida. "As a team, you have to win battles, but it's up to each individual to start the process."
Kane has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last six games for the Blackhawks. … The Thrashers' goaltending has been giving the team a chance to win of late -- Pavelec has a .934 save percentage in two games since returning and Chris Mason made 52 saves in his most recent start, a 4-3 win over the Panthers.
Blackhawks forwards Marian Hossa
(shoulder) and Dave Bolland
(upper body) will not play. … Thrashers forward Bryan Little is dealing with a concussion. There's no timetable for the return of defenseman Freddy Meyer (lower-body injury).
Chicago's Patrick Sharp
was minus-5 against the Devils on Wednesday; Duncan Keith
was minus-4. … Atlanta's opponents have put 30 or more shots on goal in 11 of 13 games this season and its goalies have faced 40 or more shots on five occasions.
"It's fun to see how they’re doing with their teams. Some of them are playing more prominent roles on their teams, so you realize how good of a team it was that you had last year." -- Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, on his former teammates now in Atlanta