The Chicago Blackhawks have had an uneven start to the season, but the Calgary Flames would take it over what they’ve done. When these two Western Conference teams meet on Monday night at the United Center, they’ll both be looking to put some shaky play behind them.
The Hawks’ generous penalty kill has become the defining theme of the first two weeks of the season. The team remains fantastic on the power play and is holding its own at even strength, but 11 power play goals allowed over six games is a good path to mediocrity.
A favorable matchup against the Flames should hopefully give the team — and the penalty kill in particular -- some life. Calgary has just one win in six games this season due to terrible defense (4.3 goals allowed per game, 29th in the NHL) and the league’s worst power play (1 of 25).
Getting the penalty kill back on track will be imperative to the Hawks’ success going forward. This team doesn’t dominate possession at 5-on-5 like it used to, and depends more on special teams and goaltending to win than before.
We can unpack the problem with that for a while, but in the short term, it’ll be important for this team to improve when shorthanded to stay competitive. They’ve had to scratch to a .500 record with some pretty winnable games on the schedule. On the flip side, if this penalty kill struggle can be put behind them as an aberration sooner rather than later, there’s hope that this team can look much better.
Michal Rozsival will be in the lineup. Rozsival has been a healthy scratch for all six games this season. The 38-year-old appeared in 51 games with Chicago last season, recording 13 points. Fellow Czech defenseman Michal Kempny is likely a healthy scratch along with Vincent Hinostroza, who miss his third straight game.
For more on the Flames, check out Matchsticks & Gasoline.
Tyler Motte – Jonathan Toews – Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman – Nick Schmaltz – Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen – Marcus Kruger – Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Keith – Brian Campbell
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Brent Seabrook
Gustav Forsling – Michal Rozsival
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Michael Frolik
Kris Versteeg – Sam Bennett – Troy Brouwer
Lance Bouma – Mikael Backlund – Alex Chiasson
Micheal Ferland – Matt Stajan – Freddie Hamilton
Mark Giordano – Dennis Wideman
T.J. Brodie – Dougie Hamilton
Jyrki Jokipakka – Deryk Engelland
How to watch Blackhawks vs. Flames
Place: United Center, Chicago
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
TV: CSN Chicago, NHL Network