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Come As You Are: Blackhawks at Kraken Preview

It’s the first time that the Blackhawks will see the NHL’s newest expansion team.

Arizona Coyotes v Chicago Blackhawks
Kirby Dach of the Chicago Blackhawks turns with the puck past Jonathan Toews against the Arizona Coyotes
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Blackhawks are finally back after a break just when they finally achieved some sort of momentum, riding a three-game winning streak under (relatively) new head coach Derek King. The Blackhawks will face the NHL’s newest team, the Kraken, for the first time on Wednesday night in Seattle.

We know how the Blackhawks are against the newest teams, however — Chicago currently has a 2-12-1 record against the Knights, including the 2020 NHL postseason. However, the the Kraken are not the Golden Knights — and that may be positive for Chicago.

The Kraken are having the season almost everyone predicted the Golden Knights to have back in 2017. I’d say this poor of a season from Seattle should have been expected, but ... a lot of people predicted them to make the postseason.

It was a rough expansion draft for the team, when Seattle made a bunch of picks that existed (seriously, Carsen Twarynski over James Van Riemsdyk or Jakub Voracek? Kay.) and then made three trades without picking up a first-rounder — one of the worst asset management displays ever seen.

Seattle is currently at the bottom of the Pacific Division with just nine points in 15 games, which is less than even the Blackhawks. The Kraken had been the lone team to give the Coyotes their lone win — in regulation no less — as part of a four-game skid for Seattle. That was until Arizona beat the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

The team that was “built from the back out” has given up 55 goals in 15 games — including seven to the Ducks last Thursday — again, worse than the Blackhawks and the worst in their division. In the West, only the Coyotes and the Canucks have given up the same number or more and Vancouver has played one more game.

At the same time, the offense, which was supposed to be the team’s weak spot, has been fine. They have 42 goals so far this season, more than five teams in the West including, you guessed it, the Blackhawks.

Jordan Eberle leads the team with eight goals and 12 points and Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Wennberg, added in free agency, both have 11 points.

The problem for Seattle so far this season has been their goaltending, which was heralded entering the regular season. Philipp Grubauer, added from the Avalanche, has a .880 save percentage so far this season and Chris Driedger, his backup, has a .833. Joey Daccord, the only other goaltender with an NHL contract for Seattle, has a .855.

The Blackhawks are not much better and are in fact worse in several categories, it’s important to remember. Seattle is ninth in shot share (51.76%) and 10th in expected goal share (52.58%), well above the Blackhawks, which is not particularly hard when the Blackhawks are last in the league in both categories.

Still, if the Blackhawks are going to start off this four-game road series on the right foot, they’ll need a win against a beatable team.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Kraken

44.34% (31st) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 51.93% (9th)

41.25% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 52.58% (10th)

2.13 (30th) — Goals per game — 2.8 (T-18th)

3.4 (29th) — Goals against per game — 3.67 (31st)

49.2% (19th) — Faceoffs — 47.8% (25th)

20% (13th) — Power play — 10.9% (31st)

87.5% (5th) — Penalty kill — 80.7% (20th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

DeBrincat — Dach — Kane

Kubalik — Toews — Khaira

Borgstrom — Strome — Hardman

Kurashev — Carpenter — R. Johnson

McCabe — S. Jones

de Haan — Murphy

Gustafsson — Stillman

Fleury

Lankinen

Kraken

Schwartz — Wennberg — Eberle

Johansson — McCann — Jarnkrok

Tanev — Gourde — Blackwell

Donato — Geekie — Donskoi

Fleury — Giordano

Lauzon — Oleksiak

Dunn — Larsson

Grubauer

Driedger

How to watch

When: 9 p.m. CT

Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle

TV: TNT