Coming out of the holiday break, the Blackhawks have never been more injured. Brandon Saad is out for three weeks. Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan are both done for the season with shoulder surgeries performed Friday, and Seabrook has two hip surgeries coming up in 2020. Andrew Shaw still isn’t back, and neither is Drake Caggiula.
Chicago (15-17-6) just lost to the second-worst team in the NHL this season in the Devils, and that was after New Jersey had traded Taylor Hall, their best forward. Things don’t look good. They beat the Avalanche in the game prior to facing the Devils, however, and Robin Lehner was excellent in that game.
That will perhaps be the biggest question heading into this game. Lehner allowed three goals in the loss to the Devils, coming in as relief for Corey Crawford. This will be his first game against his former team, the Islanders, after they let him walk in free agency after a Vezina-nominated season. If this is a revenge game for Lehner, that could be the one saving grace for an extremely injured Blackhawks defense. Lehner has a .924 save percentage this season, although that has fallen to .905 during his last five games.
Defenseman Slater Koekkoek will draw back into the lineup for the first time since Dec. 8 as Adam Boqvist rests a healing right shoulder.
New York (23-9-3), meanwhile, come in to Chicago on a two-game losing streak with losses to to the Ducks and Blue Jackets before the holiday break, but are second in the Metropolitan Division with 49 points and have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL with 91.
The Islanders have a good supply of young offensive talent, with Mathew Barzal leading the way with 32 points in 35 games, including 16 goals. Brock Nelson joins him with 28 points and 13 goals and Ryan Pulock leads the Islanders’ blue line with five goals and 18 points.
Thomas Greiss, Lehner’s former goaltending partner, should get the start for the Islanders, and he’s riding a .906 save percentage in his last five games.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Islanders
47.7% (25th) — Corsi For — 46.6% (t-29th)
49.7% (19th) — Faceoffs — 50.2% (t-16th)
2.74 (t-22nd) — Goals per game — 2.91 (t-19th)
3.05 (t-24th) — Goals against per game — 2.49 (5th)
15.4% (26th) — Power play — 21.4% (10th)
81.4% (13th) — Penalty kill — 79.2% (21st)
Kubalik — Toews — Quenneville
DeBrincat — Dach — Strome
Nylander — Carpenter — Kane
Smith — Kampf — Highmore
Keith — Gustafsson
Koekkoek — Murphy
Maatta — Gilbert
Lee — Barzal — Eberle
Bailey — Nelson — Dal Colle
Beauvillier — Brassard — Kuhnhackl
Martin — Cizikas — Johnston
Pelech — Pulock
Toews — Mayfield
Leddy — Boychuk
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Live stream: NBC Sports app