If the Blackhawks are going to be serious about defending their Stanley Cup title, they're probably going to have to win the Central division and that means overtaking the Detroit Red Wings, who currently lead the division.
The good news for the Blackhawks is that there doesn't seem to be a dominant team in the NHL this year. Although the Wings lead the Central, they are only 10 points -- essentially five games -- ahead of the Hawks, who can make a statement this afternoon by winning in Detroit. The two teams have split their two games so far this year; this is the first game between the teams in Detroit.
This would be a good time for the Blackhawks to take advantage of the Red Wings' long list of injured players: Pavel Datsyuk (hand), Mike Modano (wrist) and Danny Cleary (ankle), Tomas Holmstrom (hand), Brad Stuart (jaw) and goalie Chris Osgood (hernia surgery) are all out. The Blackhawks may be missing Nick Boynton today -- he's got the mysterious "flu-like symptoms", which could apply to just about anything.
Meanwhile, the Hawks' week off has let other teams catch up to them in games played -- instead of having the most games played in the Western Conference, the Hawks are now tied for fewest games played with 47. A win today puts them in a tie for sixth place in the conference.
Corey Crawford gets the start in goal this afternoon. The game begins at 1 p.m. CST and will be televised on WGN (Chicago only).