With two wins during a four-game road trip, the Blackhawks will walk out of this stretch feeling more successful than they probably have during the opening of the regular season. They’ll push for one more win against the Flames on Tuesday night but, here’s the thing: the Flames are one of the best teams in the league so far this season.
Calgary already has seven shutouts (five from Jakob Markstrom, two from backup goaltender Dan Vladar), placing them at the top of the league with 1.89 goals against per game. The Flames are also seventh in expected goal share at 5-on-5.
Darryl Sutter, the team’s somewhat new head coach who took over with 30 games left during the 2021 season, has elevated the play of the Flames and is getting great results. Johnny Gaudreau has come back to life with 22 points in 19 games, with Elias Lindholm not far behind with 20 points.
In addition, defenseman Oliver Kylington is having a breakout season on defense with 12 points so far this season, including three goals. Kylington, 24, had previously struggled to crack the lineup consistently but is now getting top-four minutes at even strength.
The Flames are bad at nearly nothing so far this season. Their shot share is third-best in the league this season (54.22 percent) and their high-danger share is ninth-best (52.53 percent). This team has everything. That includes, somehow, for a team this good, both Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Zadorov. Hey, no team in the cap era is perfect.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are attempting to build off a shutout against the Canucks with Marc-Andre Fleury owing more than a few pats to his posts in that game. It isn’t great that the Blackhawks were able to muster just one goal against a struggling Vancouver team, but that’s the season so far.
If the Blackhawks were able to able to score just one goal against Thatcher Demko and his .905 save percentage this season, it’ll be scary to see how they do against Calgary’s netminders, who both are above .940 — Markstrom is currently sitting at .942, Vladar at .945.
Blackhawks — Statistic — Flames
44.71% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 53.54% (5th)
41.83% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 52.73% (7th)
2.17 (30th) — Goals per game — 3.32 (9th)
3.22 (25th) — Goals against per game — 1.89 (1st)
48.2% (24th) — Faceoffs — 49.7% (16th)
17.7% (19th) — Power play — 24.6% (6th)
86% (8th) — Penalty kill — 87.5% (5th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
DeBrincat — Dach — Kane
Hagel — Toews — Strome
Hardman — Borgstrom — Kubalik
Kurashev — Carpenter — Khaira
de Haan — Jones
McCabe — Murphy
Stillman — Gustafsson
Gaudreau — Lindholm — Tkachuk
Coleman — Backlund — Mangiapane
Dube — Monahan — Pitlick
Lucic — Richardson — Lewis
Hanifin — Andersson
Kylington — Tanev
Valimaki — Gudbranson
How to watch
When: 8 p.m. CT
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary
TV: NBC Sports Chicago