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Paper Wings: Blackhawks-Hurricanes Preview

It’s the second meeting between the two teams in the last six days.

Chicago Blackhawks v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Fresh off their first win of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks are back on home ice Wednesday night, hosting the Carolina Hurricanes.

The team stats are a study in the importance of 5-on-5 hockey, because the two teams are not all that different from a special teams perspective. Carolina is ranked fourth in the league on the power play (28.1 percent) and on the penalty kill (88.9), while Chicago is ranked sixth (26.3) and fifth (88.6), respectively. Seems like an even matchup, right? But it’s at 5-on-5 play where the fortunes of each team take wildly different turns. At 5-on-5 play, Carolina is it outscoring its opponents 20-7 this season, a plus-13 differential that is the best in the league. Chicago is trailing 30-10, a minus-20 differential that is the worst in the league.

Those numbers explain why the Hurricanes are 8-0 entering Wednesday’s game while Chicago is toiling near the bottom of the league at 1-7-2. These two teams met just five nights prior, with the Hurricanes waxing the Blackhawks 6-3, a game that was notable for the Blackhawks because it included their first lead of the season — albeit a brief advantage. Through the first month of the season it’s many of the expected faces leading the way for Carolina: forward Andrei Svechnikov has a team-high 11 points (7 G, 4 A) and Sebastian Aho is right behind him at 10 (5 G, 5 A), while Vincent Trocheck and old friend Teuvo Teravainen have similar two-goal, six-assist statlines. In net, Frederik Andersen has a sparking 7-0 record, 1.29 goals-against average and .956 save percentage, partially due to this quality play but also due to the talented squad in front of him. Once again, this is a formidable opponent that is arriving at the United Center this evening, with the biggest question facing the Hurricanes is whether or not they can put it all together in the postseason — a task that’s eluded them to this point.

As for the Blackhawks, there was a mixture of good and bad news from the morning skate: while forward Henrik Borgstrom was removed from COVID protocol, forward Tyler Johnson and defenseman Isaak Phillips went on it:

There could be a little roster shuffle as a result of that news, although that shuffle will not include an addition of defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk, who’s not quite ready for game action although he’s been on the ice for multiple days now:

Marc-Andre Fleury will handle the Blackhawks’ net.

After finally getting a win on Monday night, the start to the season appears to have finally hit the bottom it was plummeting towards since it started. While a win won’t save all of the issues facing this team both on and off the ice, any signs of progress would be welcome after the month-long misery march that was October.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Hurricanes (stats from this season)

46.17% (29th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 53.39% (6th)

42.46% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 52.75% (10th)

2.20 (29th) — Goals per game — 4.13 (2nd)

3.80 (31st) — Goals against per game — 1.50 (1st)

49.3% (20th) — Faceoffs — 55.3% (3rd)

26.3% (6th) — Power play — 28.1% (4th)

88.6% (5th) — Penalty kill — 88.9% (4th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Kubalik — Dach — Kane

Hagel — Toews — Carpenter

DeBrincat — Kurashev — Hardman

Strome — Entwistle — R. Johnson

de Haan — Jones

Gustafsson — Murphy

McCabe — Stillman

Fleury

Lankinen

Hurricanes

Martinook — Aho — Teravainen

Svechnikov — Trocheck — Necas

Kotkaniemi — Staal — Fast

Lorentz — Stepan — Jarvis

Slavin — Bear

Skjei — Pesce

Cole — DeAngelo

Andersen

Raanta

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago-Plus

Live stream: ESPN+