No shortage of offense

After struggling to score goals a season ago, the offseason addition of two highly touted rookies and a savvy veteran has the Chicago Blackhawks' attack moving in the right direction.

The Blackhawks look to continue their offensive outburst and win their third straight game on Tuesday when they host the inconsistent Columbus Blue Jackets.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Chicago -140 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 89% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -140 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Last season, Chicago (5-3-0) was tied with Columbus (3-3-1) for the second-fewest goals in the league with 201 - the second straight year the Blackhawks were second from the bottom.

Chicago opened 2006-07 with 11 goals in its first six games, but has erupted for 11 goals in winning its last two.

Against Toronto on Saturday, the Blackhawks were trailing 3-1 heading into third period, but rallied for five goals in the last 20 minutes to win 6-4.

"That's where we're heading,'' Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "We're not quite there yet. We've still got lots of things to improve on, but our organization has done a great job acquiring the veteran guys we've got and the kids we drafted. We've got more to come, too."

The Blackhawks have got most of their production from 18-year-old rookie Patrick Kane, 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Toews, and 14-year veteran Robert Lang.

Kane, the first overall pick of the 2007 draft, had two assists on Saturday, and eight of his team-high nine points are assists.

Toews, who played for North Dakota last year and was the third overall pick of the 2006 draft, had an assist against the Maple Leafs, and has two goals and four assists in six games.

"Their will is so huge and you can't teach that,'' Savard said. "They're great players but, more important, their will is huge."

The two youngsters have been joined on the top line by Lang, who played for Detroit in 2006-07 before signing a free-agent contract in the offseason.

Lang scored his team-leading fifth goal on Saturday, and had two goals and five assists in eight games against the Blue Jackets last season with the Red Wings.

Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who rested Saturday, is 3-3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average on the season, but struggled against the Blue Jackets last season, going 2-3-1 with a 4.18 GAA. Khabibulin is 4-5-2 with one tie, one shutout and a 3.39 GAA in his career against Columbus.

Chicago went 4-3-1 against the Blue Jackets last season, and 2-1-1 against them at the United Center, where it is 11-5-1 with one tie all-time against them.

The Blue Jackets wasted numerous scoring opportunities in a disappointing 4-1 loss to Vancouver on Sunday.

Columbus outshot the Canucks 14-0 in the second period, but scored only one goal in that span and went just 1-for-10 on power-play chances for the game.

"When it's 26-6 in shots after two periods and you're down 2-1, it's pretty obvious," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Our work and our determination gave us the opportunity to go on the power play a lot today and we didn't take advantage of it."

Columbus has yielded 15 goals in its four losses, but has shut out its opponents in its three wins.

Pascal Leclaire, who has been in goal for the three shutouts, stopped just 15-of-18 shots on Sunday. He is 1-2-0 with a 3.63 GAA lifetime against the Blackhawks.

Left wing Rick Nash scored his team-leading fifth goal on Sunday, and had three goals and five assists against Chicago in 2006-07. Nash has 13 goals and 14 assists in 24 career games against the Blackhawks, career highs against any opponent.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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