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Blackhawks begin stretch of road games by facing Hurricanes

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Eight of the Blackhawks next 11 games will be played away from the United Center.

NHL: NOV 12 Blackhawks at Hurricanes Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a seven-game homestand that saw the Blackhawks win just two games, they enter a road-heavy portion of the schedule beginning with Saturday afternoon’s game against the Hurricanes.

Eight of Chicago’s next 11 games are on the road, including a west coast swing as the calendar flips from October to November next week. And its first opponent in that stretch has cooled off after a red-hot start.

The Hurricanes stormed out of the gate (get it?!) this season, winning their first five games. But Carolina has just one win in its last five outings and has lost three straight, including Thursday night’s overtime loss against the Blue Jackets.

The biggest scoring threat has come from the blue line, where defenseman Dougie Hamilton has six goals and five assists for a team-leading 11 points. Just behind him is ... sigh .... Teuvo Teravainen with a team-high seven assists, while offseason acquisition Erik Haula has a team-leading seven goals in 10 games. Carolina has a fairly diverse offensive attack and, although the top line of Sebastian Aho, Teravainen and 2018 second overall draft pick Andrei Svechnikov packs the biggest punch, the Hurricanes’ second and third lines provide enough depth to make Carolina’s offense difficult to contain.

In net, Petr Mrazek has the better record at 4-1-1 but James Reimer’s 2-2 record comes with slightly better numbers than Mrazek. Neither goalie has shined through the first few weeks of the regular season, though, and that position will be worth keeping an eye on if Carolina hopes to improve on last season’s run to the conference final.

But all of that intrigue with Carolina pales in comparison to the current situation in Chicago, after head coach Jeremy Colliton went to the media with issues about his team’s work ethic following an ugly 4-1 loss to the Flyers on Thursday. How Chicago responds during its weekend back-to-back could be a strong indication of how well the message was received and could also signal the direction of the rest of the season. While a 2-4-2 start is far from a death knell, the Blackhawks should’ve learned from last season’s uphill chase that it’s hard to gain ground in the Central Division, especially with the glutton of three-point games in the league. If there’s still hope of playoff contention in Chicago, the Blackhawks will need to start picking up points in the short-term.

Corey Crawford will return to the net while Drake Caggiula sits in favor of Zack Smith as the only two lineup changes from Thursday’s game. Just about everything else will be up in the air without a morning skate, but Chicago’s objective isn’t: two points.

Let’s go Hawks!

Blackhawks — Statistic — Hurricanes

48.9% (22nd) — Corsi For — 54.3% (2nd)

48.7% (23rd) — Faceoffs — 49.6% (19th)

2.50 (25th) — Goals per game — 3.20 (t-11th)

3.13 (17th) — Goals against per game — 2.9 (13th)

76.0% (24th) — Power play — 79.5% (18th)

50.0% (30th) — Penalty kill — 77.8% (16th)

Lineups

Blackhawks

DeBrincat - Toews - Kane

Kubalik - Kampf - Nylander

Saad - Dach - Shaw

Smith - Carpenter - Strome

Keith - de Haan

Maatta - Seabrook

Koekkoek - Gustafsson

Crawford

Lehner

Hurricanes

Svechnikov — Aho — Teravainen

Niederreiter — Staal — Foegele

Dzingel — Haula — Necas

McGinn — Wallmark — Gibbons

Slavin — Hamilton

Edmundson — Pesce

Gardiner — van Riemsdyk

Mrazek

Reimer

How to watch

When: Noon

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app