CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a save on a shot by Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on November 6, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 6-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Blackhawks hit the road for a pair of division games, then return home to host Calgary and Edmonton over the weekend.
The Blackhawks had a bit of a meltdown against Vancouver on Sunday night and lost 6-2, but they're still atop the Central Division standings. This week the Blackhawks have a chance to put a little more distance between themselves and the division's worst two teams.
Nov. 8: @ St. Louis Blues (7:00 p.m. CT on CSN)
On Sunday, the Blues fired coach Davis Payne and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock, so this may be a good opportunity for Chicago to take advantage of a team in turmoil. St. Louis is in 4th place in the Central, but their 6-7 record is hardly an unmitigated disaster. But apparently it's not good enough for Payne to keep his job, either.
Nov. 10: @ Columbus Blue Jackets (6:00 p.m. CT on CSN)
Following the Blues, Chicago gets the Blue Jackets, who are an unmitigated disaster. With just two wins and five points to show for themselves, they are in the league's cellar by a wide margin; no other team in the NHL has fewer than 10 points. They've allowed 53 goals in 14 games, and they're coming off a 9-2 drubbing at the hands of the Flyers on Saturday.
Nov. 11: vs. Calgary Flames (7:30 p.m. CT on CSN)
This season has been a struggle for Calgary as well, and the vultures are circling. Or making phone calls. Miikka Kiprusoff hasn't been bad in net, but the team has had trouble generating offense this season. Alex Tanguay leads the Flames with 11 points.
Nov. 13: vs. Edmonton Oilers (6:00 p.m. CT on WGN)
After a last-place finish in the Northwest Division last year, the Oilers are off to a first-place start in 2011-12, and the primary reason for that has been defense/goaltending. Edmonton leads the NHL in save percentage and goals against average. Nikolai Khabibulin is 6-0-2 with a 0.98 GAA; he's allowed a grand total of eight goals over his eight starts. Backup Devan Dubnyk has been solid as well.