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Join the Dark Order: Blackhawks vs. Islanders preview

Chicago makes its home debut still in search of its first win in the ‘21-22 season.

New York Islanders v Chicago Blackhawks
Connor Murphy of the Chicago Blackhawks shoves Jordan Eberle of the New York Islanders into Robin Lehner as Lehner makes a save
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As the recruitment video/video promo for All Elite Wrestling’s loveable loser Dark Order stable goes, “before you can find yourself, you must lose yourself.” The Chicago Blackhawks have certainly lost themselves so far this season, opening the year with a 0-2-1 record and not being particularly close in any of the games, even the game when they took New Jersey to overtime.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders, heavy favorites in the Metropolitan Division, are also at the bottom of the standings with a 0-2-0 record themselves, losing those two games by a combined seven goals. The Islanders have so far faced the Hurricanes (allowing six goals) and the Panthers (allowing five). Ilya Sorokin, who has started both games for New York, has had a very rough start to his sophomore season with a .855 save percentage so far. He had a .918 in 22 games last season.

The Islanders made trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri a more permanent member of their roster over the offseason, got captain Anders Lee back from the injury that held him out of the postseason and added Zdeno Chara to the strangest configuration of a blue line that is still quite good. When you have a top pairing of two of the best defensemen in the league that almost perfectly complement each other (most of the time, the first two games of the season notwithstanding) in Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, that tends to happen.

Chara, 44, is only the league’s oldest defenseman by five years. The second-oldest active defenseman Andy Greene, 39, is also on the team. The team also added 37-year-old Zach Parise to the roster in the offseason, meaning Lou Lamoriello likes ‘em old.

The player the Isles lost in the expansion draft was Jordan Eberle, who was third on the team in goals with 16.

The Islanders are currently missing Semyon Varlamov, who played 36 games for New York last season and posted a .929 save percentage. Varlamov is currently dealing with an undisclosed nagging injury and could join the team soon. For now, though, Sorokin is backed up by Cory Schneider, who last played an NHL game on March 6, 2020 during a season in which he posted a .887 save percentage.

It’s not like the Blackhawks are perfect themselves. Chicago cannot score at 5-on-5, saw a continuation of their pattern of bad starts against the Penguins (allowing four goals in the first 11:25 of the game) and just ... the defense has not been good. While that has been during a three-game road trip, that doesn’t really stack up to the Islanders’ current road trip which lasts 13 games over the course of more than a month.

The Blackhawks currently have a 43.1 Corsi-For percentage, 33.03 expected goals percentage and 33.33 high-danger percentage. This team is struggling mightily at 5-on-5 and, while the power play has scored four goals — one of the highest amounts in the league — everything else looks rough for Chicago.

That includes Marc-Andre Fleury, who has the third-worst save percentage in the league currently across all strengths with a .826. This is a much different defense than the one he was playing behind in Vegas, and unless he recovers something fierce moving forward he may regret not retiring.

But hey, the good news is Mike Hardman looks to enter the lineup against the Islanders with Ian Mitchell sent down to Rockford, as Hardman drew into practice on the third line on Monday.

As the Dark Order says, “there is strength in numbers.” Just ... probably not these numbers.

Let’s go Hawks. Join the Dark Order.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Islanders (numbers from last season)

45.85% (30th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 48.56% (20th)

43.96% (31st) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 52.01% (11th)

2.84 (16th) — Goals per game — 2.71 (21st)

3.29 (24th) — Goals against per game — 2.23 (2nd)

46.9% (27th) — Faceoffs — 51.4% (9th)

21.7% (11th) — Power play — 18.8% (20th)

76.8% (28th) — Penalty kill — 83.7% (6th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Kubalik — Toews — Kurashev

Hagel — Dach — Kane

DeBrincat — Borgstrom — Hardman

Khaira — Entwistle — Johnson

de Haan — Jones

McCabe — Murphy

Stillman — Gustafsson

Fleury

Lankinen

Islanders

Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Kyle Palmieri

Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey

Zach Parise — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom

Leo Komarov — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

Andy Greene — Scott Mayfield

Zdeno Chara — Noah Dobson

How to watch

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: ESPN

Live stream: Watch ESPN