The Blackhawks are back in Chicago after a four-game road trip to host the Ducks on Tuesday at United Center.
Chicago (29-28-8) finished its road trip with two wins against the Lightning and Panthers, but a 5-7-2 record in February has decimated the Blackhawks’ playoff to 8-percent, according to Dom Luszczyszyn’s model on The Athletic.
Although the Blackhawks’ postseason aspirations are on the verge of disappearing entirely, Chicago’s work ethic and resilience haven’t faltered. Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been vocal about maintaining professionalism when it comes to game preparation, an up beat attitude and a never quit mentality. Even if the Blackhawks miss the playoffs for a third straight season, the lessons the younger nucleus of the team have learned from their leaders about dealing with adversity and the up and downs of a 82-game season will be monumental for their development.
Kane normally gets credit for being the Blackhawks’ scoring leader, but a new team leader has emerged in the goal scoring department. Rookie Dominik Kubalik is up to 29 goals and is third on the team in points (44), which has vaulted him into Calder Trophy consideration by some.
During the past two weeks, Kubalik’s goal scoring touch has finally made its long awaited arrival to the No. 1 power play unit, which has given the 29th-ranked power play in the NHL some momentum. He has two power-play goals in his past five games and Chicago has a 27.3-percent conversion rate in as many games. If the Blackhawks have any hope of making a miracle run back into the Western Conference wild card race in their final 17 games, their power play will have to maintain this hot streak.
Crawford will make his sixth straight start after Robin Lehner was traded to the Golden Knights on Feb. 24. Crawford has a .932 save-percentage in his last five starts and has only given up more than two goals once.
The Ducks (26-31-8) sit near the bottom of the Western Conference with 60 points and were sellers at the trade deadline giving up six players, including Ondrej Kase to the Bruins for a package that included David Backes, Axel Andersson and a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft.
Anaheim’s offense now revolves around Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf, who have 39, 34, 35 and 40 points respectively. Those four are the only Ducks with more than 30 points and Henrique is the lone player with more than 20 goals.
Additionally, three of Anaheim’s top defensemen, Cam Fowler, Erik Gudbranson and Hampus Lindholm are expected to be out of the lineup due to injuries, which gives the Blackhawks an opportunity to expose a inexperienced lineup that gives up 3.02 goals-per-game.
John Gibson will likely start in net for the Ducks. He’s 19-25-5 this season and owns a career worst .904 percentage and a minus-7.70 goals saved above average. In his only appearance against Chicago this season, Gibson allowed four goals on 33 shots.
The Blackhawks can sweep the season series against the Ducks with a victory on Tuesday after winning 3-2 in overtime in Anaheim on Nov. 3 and 4-2 in Chicago on Jan. 11.
Tale of the tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Ducks
48.4% (t-22nd) — Corsi For — 48.0% (t-25th)
46.9% (28th) — Expected goals for — 47.4% (26th)
2.90 (t-19th) — Goals per game — 2.50 (t-29th)
2.94 (t-20th) — Goals against per game — 3.02 (26th)
15.3% (29th) — Power play — 14.7% (31st)
82.1% (8th) — Penalty kill — 77.4% (22nd)
Kubalik — Toews — Saad
Nylander — Strome— Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Caggiula
Highmore — Kampf— Carpenter
Keith — Boqvist
Maatta — Koekkoek
Carlsson — Murphy
Milano — Getzlaf — Heinen
Rakell — Henrique — Silfverberg
Jones — Steel— Sherwood
Deslauriers — Backes — Rowney
Guhle — Manson
Larsson — Del Zotto
Djoos — Irwin
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.tv