It seems like just yesterday the Blackhawks were in San Jose, facing their Stanley Cup goaltender Antti Niemi, who left because of salary cap issues, and seeing him make 30 saves in a 5-2 Sharks win.
It wasn't yesterday, but it was only 17 days ago, on Nov. 24. The NHL schedule-makers apparently had no sympathy for the defending Cup champions, making them take two trips West within the season's first two and a half months. Fortunately, this particular trip is only three days and two games long; after the Hawks face the Sharks tonight in San Jose and the Avalanche in Denver on Monday, they'll return to the United Center on Wednesday and play six of the seven remaining December games at home, traveling only briefly to St. Louis to face the Blues on Dec. 28.
Tonight, though, will be a tough game with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa both out and with no scheduled return date. Adam Jahns at the Sun-Times says that it's been good that Niklas Hjalmarsson has begun to play better recently and that it's his defense that's been in part responsible for the Hawks winning seven of their last 10 games. Also, Jeremy Morin has once again been recalled from Rockford for tonight's game.
The game begins at 9:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on CSN Chicago.