When the Blackhawks take the ice, it appears there will be different line combinations, something coach Joel Quenneville has been known to do after a loss. The Jonathan Toews line remains intact, but Brandon Saad was returned to the second line with Patrick Kane on the opposite wing and Artem Anisimov in the middle. On the third line, Alexandre Fortin — fresh off his first NHL goal — will skate with center David Kampf and Nick Schmaltz on the other wing.
The combinations break up the duo of Kane and Schmaltz, who’ve been together for most of this short season. And although there’s no statistical evidence to support this claim, it certainly feels like Schmaltz spent much of the first eight games deferring on his own shooting opportunities to pass the puck to Kane. Taking that option away from Schmaltz could lead to the forward shooting the puck more — an under-utilized but effective part of Schmaltz’s game.
Elsewhere in the Chicago lineup, John Hayden appears to be getting the nod on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Chris Kunitz, which moves Andreas Martinsen to a healthy scratch. On the blue line, Brandon Manning appears set to return in favor of Brandon Davidson, while Corey Crawford will make his third start in net.
Meanwhile, in Anaheim, the Ducks are off to a strong start despite finding themselves on the wrong side of the possession ledger in virtually every game so far, as this chart from hockey analytics guru Sean Tierney details:
Notice how far Anaheim is entrenched in the “bad” quadrant? That’s indicative of how often they’ve been getting outshot and out-chanced by their opponents. But Anaheim has five wins and currently sits atop the Pacific Division standings because John Gibson has been playing out of his mind. In seven starts, he’s posted a .949 save percentage and 1.91 GAA, facing an average of just under 37 shots per game.
Just look at how far Gibson sticks out on this chart, also from Tierney:
Goalie charts are updated.— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) October 23, 2018
So, Rinne, Lehner, Halak, Kinkaid, Campbell, Elliott, and Ward are providing above-average results, just like we all predicted they would.https://t.co/0g9bBhj1oO pic.twitter.com/19kR3OktOD
Ryan Miller has been solid in his three backup appearances with a .938 SA% and 2.17 GAA. Goaltending is the only thing that’s kept the Ducks afloat through the first few weeks of the season. And if that trend changes without a significant boost from the offense, Anaheim could plummet in the standings.
Perhaps the Blackhawks can give the Ducks a push in that direction tonight.
DeBrincat — Toews — Kahun
Saad — Anisimov — Kane
Fortin — Kampf — Schmaltz
Kunitz — Kruger — Hayden
Keith — Jokiharju
Gustafsson — Seabrook
Rutta — Manning
Street — Getzlaf — Aberg
Cogliano — Kesler — Gibbons
Comtois — Henrique — Sherwood
Lundestrom — Steel - Rakell
Jowler — Manson
Lindholm — Montour
Pettersson — Sustr
How to watch
Start time: 7:30 p.m. Central
Location: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago