With every game that goes by, you can sense the nerves tighten up in the Windy City. The Chicago Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions, are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the insane Western Conference playoff picture. They sit down in 11th place, four points behind eighth-place Anaheim with two games in hand.
It's not an immediate worry for the 'Hawks with 24 games left on the schedule, but every game that goes by is vital to their chances in a race that will surely go right to the wire. In Pittsburgh, things are a little less scary thanks to early-season success, but things are still certainly less than comfortable with Evgeni Malkin done for the year and Sidney Crosby still out of the lineup.
Patrick Kane has missed two straight games with the flu but hopes to return to the lineup today. Chicago is without coach Joel Quenneville, who was released from the hospital Sunday morning after suffering from some internal bleeding caused by an ulcer. He expects to be back behind the bench soon for Chicago, but it'll be assistant Mike Haviland running things again today.
Today's game will be broadcast nationally on NBC as part of "Hockey Day In America." It will lead in to Versus' coverage of the Heritage Classic at 6 p.m. Eastern. For a full schedule of the days' games, click here.