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Toews remains out as Blackhawks face Islanders on the road

The scoreboard could get a workout in this one.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of teams with plenty of questions about its goaltenders will meet in Brooklyn on Saturday night when the Chicago Blackhawks face the New York Islanders.

The Islanders season story will sound familiar for those who’ve followed the Blackhawks this winter. New York has 72 points, which is slightly ahead of Chicago, yet the Islanders occupy a similar basement spot in the Metropolitan Division (tied with the New York Rangers). Though not mathematically eliminated, the Islanders punted away any playoff hopes with an eight-game losing streak that started in mid-February and dragged into March. After a 5-2 win against Calgary on March 11, the Islanders have lost four of five heading into this game, most recently a 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. New York has allowed six goals or more in three of those five. Deja vu, isn’t it?

While New York has scored the seventh-most goals in the league (240), its also surrendered the most (270). Jaroslav Halak has been woeful in net, with numbers of .906 SA% and 3.27 GAA. Those are only slightly better than the team averages of .902 and 3.45, which tells a lot of the story on the island this season. Not surprisingly, the Islanders rank near the bottom of the league in most of Natural Stat Trick’s possession metrics. The offense has some firepower led by John Tavares (32 goals, 45 assists) and Anders Lee (38 goals, 20 assists). The blue line has old friend Nick Leddy, who’s spent much of this season paired up with Johnny Boychuk. Leddy’s 41-point season suggests he still has plenty of impact on the offensive end of the ice, but a league-worst plus-minus rating of minus-38 is comically egregious. Even if the validity of that statistic is questionable at best, the minus-38 is ... something.

There’s some hope to be had in the bright seasons for youngsters like 20-year-old center Mathew Barzal (20 goals, 56 assists) and 23-year-old defenseman Ryan Pulock (9 goals, 20 assists), but what this team will look like next season with Tavares appearing on his way out in the offseason remains a large question for the future of this franchise.

Meanwhile for the Blackhawks, more lineup changes were revealed in the morning skate following another loss on Thursday night. Jonathan Toews remains out with his upper-body injury, while Matthew Highmore gets to skate on the top line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. The second line looks interesting with Brandon Saad on the right, Alex DeBrincat on the left and Vinnie Hinostroza working the pivot. If nothing else, that line should be fast. In net, Anton Forsberg gets the start.

Two teams with massive issues keeping pucks out of the net suggests that this could be a high-scoring affair. Which virtually guarantees that this game will be deadlocked at zero before it’s decided in a shootout.



Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandon Saad - Victor Ejdsell - Patrick Kane
F2 Vinnie Hinostroza - Nick Schmaltz - Alex DeBrincat
F3 Tomas Jurco - Artem Anisimov - Andreas Martinesen
F4 Patrick Sharp - David Kampf - Matthew Highmore
D1 Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
D2 Jan Rutta - Erik Gustafsson
D3 Jordan Oesterle - Connor Murphy
Goaltender Anton Forsberg


Position Players
Position Players
F1 Evander Kane - Joe Pavelski - Melker Karlsson
F2 Tomas Hertl - Logan Couture - Mikkel Boedker
F3 Timo Heier - Chris Tierney - Kevin Labanc
F4 Barclay Goodrow - Eric Fehr - Jannik Hansen
D1 Paul Martin - Brent Burns
D2 Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
D3 Brenden Dillon - Dylan DeMelo
Goaltender Martin Jones

*Lines are subject to change.

How to watch Blackhawks at Islanders

Start time: 6:00 p.m. CT

Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn