The Chicago Blackhawks are rolling: the team has won seven of its last eight games, just gave head coach Joel Quenneville his 600th career win, and has been excellent in games decided in overtime or via shootout. Perhaps that's the reason Tuesday night's game at Consol Energy Center feels so much like a litmus test: Chicago can only prove so much by beating up on non-contenders. Want to really prove your mettle? Go after the elite. The game against the Penguins provides just that. You'll be hard-pressed to find a game pitting so more top-flight young talent against each other.
The Penguins aren't without their problems. Most expected the team to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference standings upon star Sidney Crosby's return, but just two days ago Pittsburgh placed Crosby on IR. It's anyone's guess how long Crosby will be out. If we've learned anything in sports over the last few years, it's that head trauma is no joke. In Crosby's absence, Evgeni Malkin has taken the reigns in Pittsburgh. Malkin's 36 points are currently fourth-best in the NHL.