Power Rankings: No. 2 Hawks to face No. 1

February, 4, 2013
2/04/13
5:38
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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No one has started the 2013 season hotter than the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks, who are No. 1 and No. 2 in this week’s ESPN NHL Power Rankings.

On Tuesday, the two teams will square off in one of the more intriguing matchups of the young season.


The Sharks, who have played one less game than the Blackhawks, have picked up a point on every occasion this season. They have a 7-0-1 record and are in second place in the Western Conference with 15 points.

The Blackhawks have also registered a point in all nine of their games. They’re 7-0-2 and stand atop the Western Conference with 16 points.

The Sharks were on a rampage offensively through their first five games, scoring 23 goals, but have slowed down lately. They have scored five goals in their past three games and have gone to a shootout in all three, winning two.

The Blackhawks have followed a similar trend. They came out of the gates with 20 goals in their first five games and have scored seven goals in their last four games. The Blackhawks’ last three games have also gone to a shootout. They won once and lost twice.

One battle to closely watch will be the Sharks' power play against the Blackhawks' penalty kill.

The Sharks' power play has been among the league's most productive. They’re tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for an NHL-best 13 power-play goals. San Jose has scored on the power play in 29.5 percent of its attempts.

The Blackhawks’ strength has been their penalty kill. They have allowed two goals in 36 power-play opportunities and lead the NHL with a 94.4 percentage.

Both teams also have two of the league’s top goalies. The Blackhawks' Corey Crawford is 5-0-2 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, a former Blackhawk, is 6-0-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

One deciding factor, especially in this season’s compact schedule, could be that the Blackhawks are coming off two days of rest heading into Tuesday’s game, and the Sharks are playing at Anaheim on Monday night.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
36 16 20 11
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 16
AssistsP. Kane 20
+/-K. Versteeg 17
GAAC. Crawford 1.87